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Andrew D
2010-Dec-08, 02:03 PM
As the holiday season rolls around, sometimes I can't help but think somehow, we've gotten it all wrong.

For example, yesterday I saw a commercial for a 'Free' Samsung 3D blue ray player with the purchase of a 52 inch 3D TV. The package also included all 5 Shrek 'films'.

I couldn't help but wonder how long it will be before we see a classroom full of grade school students who put on their 3d glasses for every geometry or science class, and I was made aware of the misapplication of a good deal of "consumer" technology that exists today.

So what other (better) uses come to mind for products on the market this year?

Ronald Brak
2010-Dec-08, 02:41 PM
Use the xbox Kinect to sort laundry. Why? Because it costs $4.50 to have a shirt laundered in Denmark. Hopefully the Kinect will be a boon to robotics and automation development, much as game consols have helped out researchers with certain computing needs.

korjik
2010-Dec-08, 04:24 PM
What would be wrong with teaching science or geometry in a full 3d VR environment?

That actually seems to me to be a better use for the tech than watching TV

Andrew D
2010-Dec-09, 12:41 AM
What would be wrong with teaching science or geometry in a full 3d VR environment?

That actually seems to me to be a better use for the tech than watching TV

Nothing at all, It would be great, that's my point; the shame is in society valuing entertainment over education, and that those screens wont be in schools for 5-10 years.

John Jaksich
2010-Dec-09, 05:40 AM
The last time I checked out technology and school learning environments ---I was under the impression that there were three distinct types of learning: kinesthetic, aural, and visual--and they were basically used in some combinations when an individual acquires new knowledge--

pardon my ignorance --I am not an educator---does it not seem that there would be a tendency in some instances where an instructor or a group of students do not learn to use it --in the manner first intended--then go on to be misused or not used at all. It seems to become an "embarrassment of riches."

danscope
2010-Dec-09, 05:49 AM
Society does not value entertainment over education. Society abhors ignorance. It will, however, take their money. Entertainment , and
also the industry which uses it to make money are only parallel influences . Without an education, much of what the industry calls entertainment
rings hollow and remains meaningless . A child can never get the jokes at the improv. It has no background .
It should be remembered that the family, the Parents , I repeat: THE PARENTS are the primary educators. A good parent is a more important
and more potent influence on a child . If the parent abandons that responsibility, the street and the industry take over. Society does not police
that realm. We can't blame society for our own failures as parents. It demands a continuous dialogue.
The Parents contribute the lion's share of education and value structure to their children ......or not.

John Jaksich
2010-Dec-09, 05:57 AM
Society does not value entertainment over education. Society abhors ignorance. It will, however, take their money. Entertainment , and
also the industry which uses it to make money are only parallel influences . Without an education, much of what the industry calls entertainment
rings hollow and remains meaningless . A child can never get the jokes at the improv. It has no background .
It should be remembered that the family, the Parents , I repeat: THE PARENTS are the primary educators. A good parent is a more important
and more potent influence on a child . If the parent abandons that responsibility, the street and the industry take over. Society does not police
that realm. We can't blame society for our own failures as parents. It demands a continuous dialogue.
The Parents contribute the lion's share of education and value structure to their children ......or not.

I could not agree with you anymore----well said!

Ara Pacis
2010-Dec-09, 08:26 AM
You want schools to have this technology? Donate one, pay higher taxes, or get Sony, et al. to donate them and pay more for the set yourself.

Strange
2010-Dec-09, 10:23 AM
Society abhors ignorance.

Sadly, that doesn't seem to be true everywhere. There is quite a strong anti-intellectual streak in significant parts of society and media, in some countries at least.

Gillianren
2010-Dec-09, 07:51 PM
It is most assuredly untrue. People laugh at their own ignorance. Compare the success in intelligent films to ones where things blow up. Compare the success of educational television to shows where people make fools of themselves for the purpose of getting on camera. Look at the amount of funding we're inclined to give toward our schools. Consider, alas, the expression "those who can't, teach." Teaching is one of the most respectable professions I can name. We absolutely need teachers; society as we know it would fall apart without it. However, there's almost a disdain for them in popular culture. Look at how smart people are shown in popular movies. The image of the nerd, the geek. The earliest mention of floppy disks in popular culture that I can name is Sixteen Candles, and they were kind of an ultimate example of how out-of-touch the characters betting them were.

danscope
2010-Dec-09, 08:16 PM
Well, quite simply, no one appreciates an idiot for a waiter . Carpenters will not tolerate fools on the job. Too dangerous and expensive.
Bad drycleaners go out of business. Bad mechanics and autoshops die on the vine. Word gets around real fast. Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as "the Reality Check " , and it doesn't square with sitcoms.
Once you are out of school, Every day is a day of reconning.
The pity is that each day, there is less and less room for fools, and more and more of them. And increasingly, those fools do not have jobs.
So.... in light of that, these fools aren't even consumers. They become panhandlers.
Going forward, we KNOW what to do.
You "DON"T " have to throw money at your children. And a fancier computer won't help them to think or to vocalize and express themselves or develope a work ethic . No. It is the reccognition of our job and theirs: To Work at their ongoing education and realize that education is a life-long
vocation ... which serves us well.
Clear skies,
Dan

Gillianren
2010-Dec-09, 08:40 PM
Oh, I think you and I have very different views on what is meant by respecting intelligence. Yours are about skill--which is important; don't get me wrong. My ren faire boss has a set of gutters strung in the booth, which is made of several Costco pop-up tents ten feet by ten feet. They work beautifully. I would have just gotten wet. His skill is important, and he makes great art as well.

But you know, it's considered perfectly acceptable to use dreadful grammar. Being ignorant of science? Yeah, that's fine. If you know higher math, you're clearly socially inept and not worth talking to. History? History is boring and for losers. In short, essentially everything you learn in school is worthless. A lot of people get by in the world just fine without it.

Luckmeister
2010-Dec-10, 02:22 AM
I couldn't help but wonder how long it will be before we see a classroom full of grade school students who put on their 3d glasses for every geometry or science class, and I was made aware of the misapplication of a good deal of "consumer" technology that exists today.

One day, in my 1955 high school geometry class, I did my homework in anaglyph 3D (red-blue). When I turned it in along with a pair of glasses, my teacher completely freaked out. He told the class that in a few years this would be common in math classes -- never happened. :sad:

adapa
2010-Dec-10, 04:07 AM
Well, quite simply, no one appreciates an idiot for a waiter . Carpenters will not tolerate fools on the job. Too dangerous and expensive.
Bad drycleaners go out of business. Bad mechanics and autoshops die on the vine. Word gets around real fast. Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as "the Reality Check " , and it doesn't square with sitcoms.
Once you are out of school, Every day is a day of reconning.
The pity is that each day, there is less and less room for fools, and more and more of them. And increasingly, those fools do not have jobs.
So.... in light of that, these fools aren't even consumers. They become panhandlers.
Going forward, we KNOW what to do.
You "DON"T " have to throw money at your children. And a fancier computer won't help them to think or to vocalize and express themselves or develope a work ethic . No. It is the reccognition of our job and theirs: To Work at their ongoing education and realize that education is a life-long
vocation ... which serves us well.
Clear skies,
Dan

If I understand you correctly, then you have a very valid point. Here is why I say that:

The six major levels of knowing are (lowest to highest) memorization, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

The application level of knowing (skill) is a higher level of knowing than either the memorization or the comprehension levels. Also, the application level is the lowest level that provides competence. As it implies, lack of knowledge at the application level renders the person to be incompetent.

danscope
2010-Dec-10, 06:24 AM
Yes, in a manner of speaking. In practical terms, the talent we are willing to pay for competes with other local talent. Competency is most often
obvious to the paying observer . Experience helps , but a good learning curve makes the difference. For example: How many otherwise good mechanics fall on their bum when it comes to electrical and electronics ? We see it all too often today. Continuing education is the name of the game in so many fields .
Best regards,
Dan

Gillianren
2010-Dec-10, 07:16 AM
So can I assume that it's reasonable to expect everyone here to put equal weight on academic subjects as well?

adapa
2010-Dec-10, 03:49 PM
Actually, just about all skilled professionals that I know of went through academics as part of their training programs. They include doctors, electricians, physical therapists, military officers, lawyers, mechanics, etc. However, the text books will usually only get a person up to the comprehension level. This is why many people say that the books only prepare you to start the real learning.

Now with that being said, there are subjects where knowledge at the 2 lowest levels is sufficient to pass. These are often subjects which are taught and tested in a classroom without having to demonstrate real world competence.

Incidentally, when I upgraded to instructor pilot (back in my Air Force days), I had to study the levels of knowing as part of my academic curriculum.

mike alexander
2010-Dec-10, 05:55 PM
I think we should turn education over to advertising writers. I can't for the life of me keep sines and cosines straight, but I can sing dozens of commercials word-for-word from 40-50 years ago.

Gillianren
2010-Dec-10, 07:10 PM
Actually, just about all skilled professionals that I know of went through academics as part of their training programs. They include doctors, electricians, physical therapists, military officers, lawyers, mechanics, etc. However, the text books will usually only get a person up to the comprehension level. This is why many people say that the books only prepare you to start the real learning.

Yes, but there are several fields where the academics are more important than others. I am also attempting to point out that there are people who both say that knowledge and intelligence are respected and show a lack of concern for the importance of certain subjects. I am further saying that, yes, we in this culture respect a lot of people who do good work in a field requiring higher education. (Though not lawyers.) However, we don't respect the education itself.


Now with that being said, there are subjects where knowledge at the 2 lowest levels is sufficient to pass. These are often subjects which are taught and tested in a classroom without having to demonstrate real world competence.

I hesitate to ask.


Incidentally, when I upgraded to instructor pilot (back in my Air Force days), I had to study the levels of knowing as part of my academic curriculum.

Would it surprise you to learn that they aren't at all universally accepted?

Swift
2010-Dec-10, 07:15 PM
This thread seems to have little to do with Science & Technology, and seems to be turning into a debate about education and society. Given that, I have moved it from S&T to OTB.

Taeolas
2010-Dec-10, 07:22 PM
I think we should turn education over to advertising writers. I can't for the life of me keep sines and cosines straight, but I can sing dozens of commercials word-for-word from 40-50 years ago.

"Suck-a-toe-ah" has been my friend for years for keeping that straight. Properly spelled it's: SOHCAHTOA, meaning Sine = Opposite / Hypotenuse; Cosine = Adjacent / Hypotenuse; Tangent = Opposite / Adjacent.

But yeah we could certainly use more/better mnemonics for remembering stuff. Often times though, it comes down to what clicks for a person, and different people click on different things. (HOMES, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge and FACE have stuck with me... but most others haven't. At least not that I can recall off hand)

danscope
2010-Dec-10, 08:10 PM
There's nothing wrong with a good crutch !!! They get you through. :)

Dan

Tobin Dax
2010-Dec-10, 09:57 PM
What would be wrong with teaching science or geometry in a full 3d VR environment?

That actually seems to me to be a better use for the tech than watching TV

True, but there are some (like me) who cannot see 3D images requiring glasses at all. I wouldn't want to be a student in that classroom.

adapa
2010-Dec-10, 10:49 PM
Yes, but there are several fields where the academics are more important than others. I am also attempting to point out that there are people who both say that knowledge and intelligence are respected and show a lack of concern for the importance of certain subjects. I am further saying that, yes, we in this culture respect a lot of people who do good work in a field requiring higher education. (Though not lawyers.) However, we don't respect the education itself.
In any given society, there are going to be elements that respect the value of the education and elements that do not. However, I do notice that the term "geek" has much less of a negative connotation than it did 25 years ago. I suspect the proliferation of computers and the value of computer experts might have something to do with it.



I hesitate to ask.
For one example, compare (contrast) the way that foreign languages are taught in a traditional school to the way that they are taught in the military (Defense Language Institute). A graduate from the traditional school gains enough comprehension to translate back and forth between the native and foreign languages. The military teaches the students by the immersion method so the person is able to actually think in the foreign language (no translation required). In fact, sometimes when the person sleeps he/she catches himself/herself actually dreaming in the language. These are 2 different levels of knowing a language. Take a wild guess as to who is likely to be more proficient.

As another example, although it is good to know history, I have never seen a test in a history class that requires practical real world application in order to pass it. On the contrary, I am willing to bet that surgeons, air traffic controllers, and firefighters have to demonstrate knowledge at the application level because lack of it will literally kill people. I also know with 100% certainty that this is true for pilots.

Note: I always believe that knowledge at the application level is needed to do well in math and science classes. I am surprised by Taeolas's post which suggests that some can get by with memorization.


Would it surprise you to learn that they aren't at all universally accepted?
Of course there are people who reject it, especially those who do not understand it. I have seen many people use the term "evaluation" to describe what is essentially analysis, and use "analysis" to describe what is essentially critiquing. The reason why I believe this theory is because I have seen it hold up so well in a crucible called the real world. For example, I have witnessed countless times the difference between comprehending the process of flying a procedure turn to an instrument approach and actually being able to fly one.

KaiYeves
2010-Dec-11, 12:13 AM
Regarding better uses of technology like the OP said, it bugs me to see better graphics in screenshots from video games in my brothers' magazines than in digital archeological reconstructions of ancient sites in my own readings. I know a lot of the illustration, especially for National Geographic, is done by hand, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that, because those people are really good artists, but when it is done digitally, why can't these factually-based environments seem as real as the fictional or invented ones in the games?

Gillianren
2010-Dec-11, 01:29 AM
In any given society, there are going to be elements that respect the value of the education and elements that do not. However, I do notice that the term "geek" has much less of a negative connotation than it did 25 years ago. I suspect the proliferation of computers and the value of computer experts might have something to do with it.

Yes, but "nerd" is still negative, and the respect for proper writing seems to be even lower. There is also still a grave stigma attached to those who actually are geeks; the automatic assumption is a lack of people skills.


For one example, compare (contrast) the way that foreign languages are taught in a traditional school to the way that they are taught in the military (Defense Language Institute). A graduate from the traditional school gains enough comprehension to translate back and forth between the native and foreign languages. The military teaches the students by the immersion method so the person is able to actually think in the foreign language (no translation required). In fact, sometimes when the person sleeps he/she catches himself/herself actually dreaming in the language. These are 2 different levels of knowing a language. Take a wild guess as to who is likely to be more proficient.

You may be surprised to know that I was myself taught in a traditional school, and the focus even there was on being able to speak it. My slipped proficiency has nothing to do with how I was taught and everything to do with the fact that I have had essentially no chance to use my language skills in the last fifteen years. I was really quite fluent, lacking only in vocabulary which had not yet come up.


As another example, although it is good to know history, I have never seen a test in a history class that requires practical real world application in order to pass it. On the contrary, I am willing to bet that surgeons, air traffic controllers, and firefighters have to demonstrate knowledge at the application level because lack of it will literally kill people. I also know with 100% certainty that this is true for pilots.

Yes, but how many tests have you seen grade-schoolers pass in air traffic controlling?


Note: I always believe that knowledge at the application level is needed to do well in math and science classes. I am surprised by Taeolas's post which suggests that some can get by with memorization.

Depends on what you want to do afterward. Most people get by okay with nothing more than basic arithmetic, after all.


Of course there are people who reject it, especially those who do not understand it. I have seen many people use the term "evaluation" to describe what is essentially analysis, and use "analysis" to describe what is essentially critiquing. The reason why I believe this theory is because I have seen it hold up so well in a crucible called the real world. For example, I have witnessed countless times the difference between comprehending the process of flying a procedure turn to an instrument approach and actually being able to fly one.

I mean in the educational community. People using it in the real world. It's often considered simplistic and lacking in a comprehensive analysis of the different things people learn, much less the different ways people learn.

SkepticJ
2010-Dec-11, 05:19 AM
Regarding better uses of technology like the OP said, it bugs me to see better graphics in screenshots from video games in my brothers' magazines than in digital archeological reconstructions of ancient sites in my own readings. I know a lot of the illustration, especially for National Geographic, is done by hand, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that, because those people are really good artists, but when it is done digitally, why can't these factually-based environments seem as real as the fictional or invented ones in the games?


Cost. You have no idea how many person-hours good graphics take to make. NG probably can't afford to pay top-notch artists for tens to hundreds of hours of work for something that'll only cover a few pages of a magazine. Whereas with video games, the work is done for something that will make millions of dollars, and all they have to do is do a screen capture of the work for magazine pages.

vonmazur
2010-Dec-11, 05:22 AM
Guys: The Instructor Pilot course at Ft Rucker, which I passed in 1969, was the most difficult thing I have ever encountered in an Academic enviroment...One had to know, cold, everything about it, and be able to do it as well...In those days, unless an Aviator had 1000 hours combat time, they were not considered for the course, so it was held to a very high standard. When I completed the course, I was immediately assigned to the West German pilots, I had convinced the Army that I was "Flussig auf Deutsch".....Fortunately I had taken a Berlitz total immersion course at my own expense previously, so I got away with it!! In those days a simple level of German was almost universal in the Army, but after real experience, I realized that most of the Soldiers had no idea!! The same was true of Flight School, one knew enough to be dangerous, and after 200 hours in combat, I realized that this was absolutely true!!

Dale

adapa
2010-Dec-11, 04:52 PM
Yes, but "nerd" is still negative, and the respect for proper writing seems to be even lower. There is also still a grave stigma attached to those who actually are geeks; the automatic assumption is a lack of people skills.
I was showing that it is not necessarily worse now than it was in the past. Also, I do not agree with your assertion (in a prior post) that anyone who knows higher math is considered socially inept. But then again, it determines what segment of society you choose to look at.




You may be surprised to know that I was myself taught in a traditional school, and the focus even there was on being able to speak it. My slipped proficiency has nothing to do with how I was taught and everything to do with the fact that I have had essentially no chance to use my language skills in the last fifteen years. I was really quite fluent, lacking only in vocabulary which had not yet come up.
Were you actually thinking and dreaming in the language? Also, do you think that the traditional school method can make an english speaking student fluent in a language such as Arabic in 2 years (4 semesters)?



Yes, but how many tests have you seen grade-schoolers pass in air traffic controlling?
Actually, I was referring to college level history courses.



Depends on what you want to do afterward. Most people get by okay with nothing more than basic arithmetic, after all.
Even then they would have to be able to apply the arithmetic (application level). If someone finishes a class on arithmetic and cannot add or subtract, then he/she deserves to flunk.



I mean in the educational community. People using it in the real world. It's often considered simplistic and lacking in a comprehensive analysis of the different things people learn, much less the different ways people learn.
Teaching someone to fly an aircraft is a real world educational environment. Also, the consequences of not learning the material is much more dire in a safety critical environment than in a traditional academic institution. The reason why aviation is safe is because our methods work extremely well. Whether or not you agree is up to you. However, the truth remains that if someone does not know how to apply knowledge of a subject in the real world (application), then his/her knowledge of the subject is severely lacking.



Vonmazur, you bring up some valid points. The academic program in a military flight school is brutal. The student has to study thousands of pages in a very short period (prior to the first flight) and know it cold. Also, the critical action emergency procedures tests often had a passing grade of 100%. In undergraduate pilot training, we lost over on third of our class before the first month and lost even more later. And this was after the screening program which weeded out a lot of people.

Gillianren
2010-Dec-11, 05:35 PM
I was showing that it is not necessarily worse now than it was in the past. Also, I do not agree with your assertion (in a prior post) that anyone who knows higher math is considered socially inept. But then again, it determines what segment of society you choose to look at.

You certainly have the right to disagree. However, I'd like to see some evidence that outweighs pretty much all mass media representations.


Were you actually thinking and dreaming in the language? Also, do you think that the traditional school method can make an english speaking student fluent in a language such as Arabic in 2 years (4 semesters)?

Were that all I were studying, possibly. However, I only took Spanish one hour a day for nine months of the year, three years in high school. I also had major extracurricular activities all three of those years. The fact that I could communicate fairly fluently speaks well for it, I think. I was able to gossip with native-speakers.


Actually, I was referring to college level history courses.

Okay, how often have you seen college-level students take air traffic controlling tests? History majors know how to do real work in their field. Those taking a brief overview of the course don't necessarily need to.


Even then they would have to be able to apply the arithmetic (application level). If someone finishes a class on arithmetic and cannot add or subtract, then he/she deserves to flunk.

Yes. However, the times table is still learned by rote. Once you understand why two times two equals four, you then don't have to do the work to understand why seven times five equals thirty-five. It's for the same reason.


Teaching someone to fly an aircraft is a real world educational environment. Also, the consequences of not learning the material is much more dire in a safety critical environment than in a traditional academic institution. The reason why aviation is safe is because our methods work extremely well. Whether or not you agree is up to you. However, the truth remains that if someone does not know how to apply knowledge of a subject in the real world (application), then his/her knowledge of the subject is severely lacking.

Well, but people teaching in, say, the medical field don't reliably agree with that particular piece of pop psychology. Yes, applying the knowledge is important. But those "stages" of learning aren't really terribly explanatory of how people actually learn. It's good enough for what it is, but being told that doesn't mean you're better educated about how people learn than people in the educational field who know that it's not a reliable summary. Yes, you need to know how to apply knowledge. However, it seems again that you are conflating skill and intelligence. They are separate.

KaiYeves
2010-Dec-11, 10:57 PM
Cost. You have no idea how many person-hours good graphics take to make. NG probably can't afford to pay top-notch artists for tens to hundreds of hours of work for something that'll only cover a few pages of a magazine. Whereas with video games, the work is done for something that will make millions of dollars, and all they have to do is do a screen capture of the work for magazine pages.

Could a company that created video game-level graphics for educational purposes (Working for whatever educational organization asked, not specifically for NG or anybody else) make enough money to succeed?

vonmazur
2010-Dec-12, 07:14 AM
ADAPA: Thanks; I used to get the impression, that the average person, even if educated, did not understand what we went through in these courses.....Emergency Procedures ie: 100% or fail, and the ability to land a Huey without power, was another 100% deal...I sometimes wonder what the general business world would be like if they did this, other than in Aviation, Railroads, and other similar fields....I imagine "Burger Flippers"......:)

Dale

Ronald Brak
2010-Dec-12, 01:24 PM
Could a company that created video game-level graphics for educational purposes (Working for whatever educational organization asked, not specifically for NG or anybody else) make enough money to succeed?

I would guess not. There just isn't as much money to be made in education. On the bright side, a lot of people are developing stuff to sell to the entertainment industries that will in time lower the cost of quality graphics for everybody. Personally I think the state of educational software is...well, everything I've seen is pretty shoddy. I've even been tempted to take up programming so I can start to fill some of the holes I can see in the market, but that would take, like, effort. We seem to be almost 20 years behind where I thought we would be at this point. (Singularity be damned!) But fortunately there are people putting together quality stuff and maybe we will see some useful things, like an English speaking country putting up a suite of educational programs and resources on the net that replicate and compliment their school cirriculum. It could be a handy resource the world wide. Provided it was easy enough for local educators to translate it into local languages it could be a great boon to the world.

danscope
2010-Dec-12, 04:41 PM
Hi Vonmazur, You make an excellent point for performance in profession. On submarines, we like to come back up after we dive .
Every valve has to work as advertised , and .... you have to hear where you are going . :)

Best regards,
Dan

adapa
2010-Dec-13, 01:06 AM
You certainly have the right to disagree. However, I'd like to see some evidence that outweighs pretty much all mass media representations.
Just to clarify, when you say "mass media representations", are you seriously using movie stereotypes (hollywood fantasies) as your "credible" source?

In the real world, I know many people who were STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) majors and (as a group) they do not get treated any worse than anyone else.




Were that all I were studying, possibly. However, I only took Spanish one hour a day for nine months of the year, three years in high school. I also had major extracurricular activities all three of those years. The fact that I could communicate fairly fluently speaks well for it, I think. I was able to gossip with native-speakers.
The part that I bolded clearly indicates that your were not fluent. I had an easy A in a foreign language and was able to converse for hours with native speakers too. However, I knew better than to kid myself into thinking that I was fluent.

Also, this reinforces my point that immersion methods do teach foreign languages to a higher level of knowing than traditional schooling methods. This is why immersion is the preferred method for teaching foreign languages to diplomats, linguists, and other professionals who actually have to function in these languages.






Well, but people teaching in, say, the medical field don't reliably agree with that particular piece of pop psychology. Yes, applying the knowledge is important. But those "stages" of learning aren't really terribly explanatory of how people actually learn. It's good enough for what it is, but being told that doesn't mean you're better educated about how people learn than people in the educational field who know that it's not a reliable summary. Yes, you need to know how to apply knowledge. However, it seems again that you are conflating skill and intelligence. They are separate.

Interesting. I was talking about levels of knowing not stages of learning. In fact, I did not mention stages of learning or even insinuate anything about them. If you intend to refute someone's post, then please at least read it.

Danscope made a very valid point when he implied that ignorance (lack of knowledge) is not highly regarded. I was simply showing that incompetence is lack of knowledge at the application level. And yes, incompetence is frowned upon as it should be.

Also, I did not even mention intelligence nor did I even state or suggest any relation of it to skill. This forces me to ask another question:

Do you even read a post before you respond to it?

Gillianren
2010-Dec-13, 01:26 AM
Just to clarify, when you say "mass media representations", are you seriously using movie stereotypes (hollywood fantasies) as your "credible" source?

Well, yes. For the excellent reason that a culture's media represent a reasonable cross-section of how that culture sees itself. Basic anthropology. If people didn't want to watch the tedious actions of stupid people, they wouldn't, and shows and movies wherein ignorant people are the heroes wouldn't make as much money as they do. Various cable stations which used to be aimed toward intelligent programing now feature shows about ghost hunters and 2012 paranoia. Even the news attempts to appeal to the lowest common denominator.


In the real world, I know many people who were STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) majors and (as a group) they do not get treated any worse than anyone else.

How often do they show their education to the public at large?


The part that I bolded clearly indicates that your were not fluent. I had an easy A in a foreign language and was able to converse for hours with native speakers too. However, I knew better than to kid myself into thinking that I was fluent.

My Spanish-speaking friends thought I was reliably fluent. Did I think or dream in Spanish? No. On the other hand, over the course of the day, I used English more often.


Also, this reinforces my point that immersion methods do teach foreign languages to a higher level of knowing than traditional schooling methods. This is why immersion is the preferred method for teaching foreign languages to diplomats, linguists, and other professionals who actually have to function in these languages.

I functioned better than a fair number of diplomats do in the language of the country they operate in.


Interesting. I was talking about levels of knowing not stages of learning. In fact, I did not mention stages of learning or even insinuate anything about them. If you intend to refute someone's post, then please at least read it.

They are not entirely separate. In order to get to a deeper level of knowing, you have to pass through a stage of learning.


Danscope made a very valid point when he implied that ignorance (lack of knowledge) is not highly regarded. I was simply showing that incompetence is lack of knowledge at the application level. And yes, incompetence is frowned upon as it should be.

I would not use Danscope as a primary example of demonstrating competence in educational fields. I have been refraining from comment on this particular subject, but the fact is, I have no respect for people who discuss society's total and obvious respect for knowledge and education and so forth but quite clearly cannot or do not put together a basic sentence. I make exceptions for people speaking a second language; even people who think or dream in a second language don't have the same fluidity of language as a native speaker. The fact is, grammar is an important part of communication, and without communication, there is no ability to teach others. If people on a knowledge-based bulletin board cannot be bothered to put their best effort into writing a sentence, is there really such great respect for that aspect of learning? Or is it, indeed, evidence that people only respect intelligence, knowledge, etc., in their own field of interest?

It is also worth noting that, in the political sphere--and I am intentionally naming no names--experience is mistrusted, and it's perfectly okay not to know anything about issues before showing opinions. News outlets are firing science correspondents and leaving their handling in the trust of people ignorant of science, and that's okay. Fewer companies hire copy editors anymore, because computers will do all the work--and no one notices the problem. All around you is evidence that society really doesn't have that much of a problem with ignorance.


Also, I did not even mention intelligence nor did I even state or suggest any relation of it to skill. This forces me to ask another question:

Do you even read a post before you respond to it?

Intelligence, knowledge, and skill are interrelated. However, "really good at a job" is not the same as "knows a lot." Discussion of ignorance that then devolves into "people trust air traffic controllers" has stopped being about ignorance or not; it's now about skill, which is different. I have explained this point repeatedly. People respect the job that carpenters do. If you had to get a PhD in order to be a carpenter (and of course you don't and shouldn't), would people respect the degree or the ability to build a house? It's a different issue, and you are talking about skill. This is the point I keep trying to demonstrate. "People respect jobs where skill is immediately obvious" is not the same as "people respect the schooling required to be able to demonstrate that skill in the first place." Sure. We respect air traffic controllers. But do we respect theoretical mathematicians?

danscope
2010-Dec-13, 03:20 AM
You can get a phd in 6 years. It takes a lifetime to become a great carpenter. He takes the job out of the ground and gives the keys to the customer. .... without complaint.

Gillianren
2010-Dec-13, 04:25 AM
Is that a yes or a no? See why communication is important? Or is it "the schooling wouldn't matter," a statement which would go a long way toward proving my various points?

danscope
2010-Dec-13, 08:10 PM
It's not " Schooling / academics " aren't important. The graduate is an intermediate novice and ready as such to enter the field , hopefuly
with the advantage of the latest material in the field . There is much to be learned in many settings .... and each day .

Gillianren
2010-Dec-13, 09:27 PM
"Intermediate novice"?

Andrew D
2010-Dec-14, 12:37 AM
In the real world, I know many people who were STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) majors and (as a group) they do not get treated any worse than anyone else.


As a math major at university, I can say that I am treated differently than other students. When the question is asked in casual conversation what I am studying, people often find it strange that I am studying "just" (as one person put it) math, as opposed to engineering or finance. Usually when people ask what classes I'm taking, I say something along the lines of "a couple different math classes", to avoid the awkward replies I get if I name them ("ewww, yuck" is a sufficient summary). Lets just say I've learned to study alone on campus; I definitely do feel like an outcast sometimes. It goes back to the topic at hand: money. I think a lot of people have trouble understanding why someone would pursue a study that is so obviously not requisite to everyday life (or the grand majority of people), or rather, everyday money-making.And, since the primary goal of the consumers at large is to make money, I think a lot of my peers see pursuit of knowledge and not wealth as a contradiction of the American Dream. Since America is losing its ability to produce STEM graduates (http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2008-07-15-science-degrees_N.htm), I'm inclined to think that they are correct.

And that is merely a social side-effect. In the academic setting, it is much worse. As stated above, most people find it strange that the classes I enjoy the most are the ones that they've put off and dreaded taking, and when I outperform them, they can act, well, distasteful. Try being the one that "screws up" the curve in a class, it's not fun.

Now, of course not everyone behaves this way, there are still some people out there that are still courteous enough to act interested.

danscope
2010-Dec-14, 03:42 AM
Yes, The graduate has learned how to learn and become acquainted with his field . Talk to the same person after they have had some years under their belt.
A good friend of mine recieved his private pilot 's license many years ago, and he was a good pilot. I met up with him 20 years later.
He had a carreer in the military and had flown the SR-71 Blackbird. I recalled to him the flight we took in a rented American , many years earlier. His thought was that we were taking a chance .
We think we know something when we graduate. Experience refines that opinion.

adapa
2010-Dec-14, 08:10 AM
Well, yes. For the excellent reason that a culture's media represent a reasonable cross-section of how that culture sees itself. Basic anthropology. If people didn't want to watch the tedious actions of stupid people, they wouldn't, and shows and movies wherein ignorant people are the heroes wouldn't make as much money as they do. Various cable stations which used to be aimed toward intelligent programing now feature shows about ghost hunters and 2012 paranoia. Even the news attempts to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
If you can name any era in human history that did not involve mass ignorance in one form or another, please feel free to do so.

Also, if intelligence and knowledge are scorned, then terms like genius and brilliant should be used more often in insults than in complements. Also, words like moron, idiot, and stupid should be used more often in complements than in insults.




How often do they show their education to the public at large?
Bragging about anything to the public is generally frowned upon. However, people eventually find out about their education backgrounds and are impressed, not turned off.



My Spanish-speaking friends thought I was reliably fluent. Did I think or dream in Spanish? No. On the other hand, over the course of the day, I used English more often.
More accurately, they tell you that they find you to be reliably fluent. People have been known to use tact in friendly situations. Fluency means that you do not have to translate. This means being able to think in the language.

Also, I am fluent in a dialect that is very different from English. I think and dream in both forms of communication regularly. That is how I know that I was not fluent in French.



I functioned better than a fair number of diplomats do in the language of the country they operate in.
I am curious to know who these diplomats are.




They are not entirely separate. In order to get to a deeper level of knowing, you have to pass through a stage of learning.
Actually, the learning method should fit both the person and the topic (you even said that). This is why I was discussing levels of knowing. Also, stages of learning is more related to a process. Levels of knowing is a result. Accusing me of discussing one when I was discussing the other indicates a confusion (on your part) between a process and a result.



I would not use Danscope as a primary example of demonstrating competence in educational fields. I have been refraining from comment on this particular subject, but the fact is, I have no respect for people who discuss society's total and obvious respect for knowledge and education and so forth but quite clearly cannot or do not put together a basic sentence. I make exceptions for people speaking a second language; even people who think or dream in a second language don't have the same fluidity of language as a native speaker. The fact is, grammar is an important part of communication, and without communication, there is no ability to teach others. If people on a knowledge-based bulletin board cannot be bothered to put their best effort into writing a sentence, is there really such great respect for that aspect of learning? Or is it, indeed, evidence that people only respect intelligence, knowledge, etc., in their own field of interest?
If you wish to go down to this level, then that is your choice. However, responding to non-existent statements did not exactly distinguish your communication skills either.




Intelligence, knowledge, and skill are interrelated. However, "really good at a job" is not the same as "knows a lot." Discussion of ignorance that then devolves into "people trust air traffic controllers" has stopped being about ignorance or not; it's now about skill, which is different. I have explained this point repeatedly. People respect the job that carpenters do. If you had to get a PhD in order to be a carpenter (and of course you don't and shouldn't), would people respect the degree or the ability to build a house? It's a different issue, and you are talking about skill. This is the point I keep trying to demonstrate. "People respect jobs where skill is immediately obvious" is not the same as "people respect the schooling required to be able to demonstrate that skill in the first place." Sure. We respect air traffic controllers. But do we respect theoretical mathematicians?
In any professional field, there is no real skill without knowledge. For example:
An orthopedic surgeon who couldn't tell a femur from an ulna would be incompetent.
An organic chemist who couldn't tell an alkane from an alkene would be inept.
A conductor who couldn't read music would never make it to the stage.

Having knowledge is a necessary but not sufficient condition for having skill. Having skill requires knowing how to apply memory and comprehension. This is why application is a higher level of knowledge than either memorization or comprehension.

Also, the reason why many people respect skill is because it requires schooling, talent and (you forgot to mention) work ethic.

Also, I can personally assure you that I respect theoretical mathematicians. This is not just because I taught myself calculus when I was in the 10th grade or that I made it to the Nationals in High School Math Competitions. It is because I respect the hard work that is required to reach that level of skill.

Gillianren
2010-Dec-14, 09:47 AM
If you can name any era in human history that did not involve mass ignorance in one form or another, please feel free to do so.

Also, if intelligence and knowledge are scorned, then terms like genius and brilliant should be used more often in insults than in complements. Also, words like moron, idiot, and stupid should be used more often in complements than in insults.

That's a simplistic way of looking at compliments. What's worth noting is why people are called brilliant. What's more, it's worth noting the level on which they're considered compliments. I'll also note that you aren't actually refuting my point that the media of any era is a valuable tool for determining its values. Those who show respect for education much above the high school level are more often than not called "elitist" these days.


Bragging about anything to the public is generally frowned upon. However, people eventually find out about their education backgrounds and are impressed, not turned off.

Ah, but you see I don't consider discussion of one's educational standing bragging. I consider it quite basic information indeed. Saying that you're an engineer, for example, also provides a substantial amount of information about one's educational background. At least to those who really understanding engineering and don't think you have something to do with trains.


More accurately, they tell you that they find you to be reliably fluent. People have been known to use tact in friendly situations. Fluency means that you do not have to translate. This means being able to think in the language.

That's a very narrow definition of fluency. No, they didn't tell me; I was able to converse with them with little difficulty. (Though of course they were not disinclined to Spanglish!) Fluency means that you are able to hold your own in a language. There are of course levels of fluency, but I was fluent enough to listen to the gossip of the girls sitting behind me and know who was fooling around with who, for example.


Also, I am fluent in a dialect that is very different from English. I think and dream in both forms of communication regularly. That is how I know that I was not fluent in French.

But again, "fluent" doesn't just mean "able to think and dream in a language."


I am curious to know who these diplomats are.

Probably 90% of ambassadors. After all, it is, in the United States, at least in part a political post. You think Shirley Temple Black speaks Czech?


Actually, the learning method should fit both the person and the topic (you even said that). This is why I was discussing levels of knowing. Also, stages of learning is more related to a process. Levels of knowing is a result. Accusing me of discussing one when I was discussing the other indicates a confusion (on your part) between a process and a result.

But what's important to my end of the discussion is the respect for the result, and the fact is, "levels of knowing" is only considered reasonable summary by a handful of professionals. You find it reliable, but if you had been taught a different version of it, you would probably see evidence for that as well, because it simply isn't your field.


If you wish to go down to this level, then that is your choice. However, responding to non-existent statements did not exactly distinguish your communication skills either.

At least you stand a decent chance of knowing what I'm saying, though you seem quite capable of ignoring that and/or misinterpreting.


In any professional field, there is no real skill without knowledge. For example:
An orthopedic surgeon who couldn't tell a femur from an ulna would be incompetent.
An organic chemist who couldn't tell an alkane from an alkene would be inept.
A conductor who couldn't read music would never make it to the stage.

On the other hand, you can be considered one of the greatest songwriters of the twentieth century while at the same time needing someone to write your songs down for you in musical notation because you don't read music. However, you are again missing my point. Yes, the skill and knowledge necessarily go together. However, every example thus far presented of society's respect for education has been about the skill end of things and not the knowledge end of things. Most people don't consider the fact that a good carpenter, for example, needs more than just experience. They look at the end result, which they admire, not the process of getting there, which they generally don't consider.


Having knowledge is a necessary but not sufficient condition for having skill. Having skill requires knowing how to apply memory and comprehension. This is why application is a higher level of knowledge than either memorization or comprehension.

I disagree. I know people who think they're applying their learning, but since they didn't understand it in the first place, they're doing it wrong. Look at essentially anyone working in intelligent design; they think they're doing science, but they aren't. Many of them wouldn't know science if you hit them over the head with it. Without the comprehension of what they're doing, going through the motions is worthless.


Also, the reason why many people respect skill is because it requires schooling, talent and (you forgot to mention) work ethic.

It is generally accepted that you really only need two of the three in any sufficient quantity. I had a friend in high school who wrote great plays. Oh, they never went anywhere, because he was remarkably lazy, but he had the skill. Sufficient schooling and work ethic can overcome a substantial lack of talent to produce reasonable skill. Heck, my older sister was a more accomplished violist than I despite my greater level of natural talent, because she practiced a lot more reliably than I.


Also, I can personally assure you that I respect theoretical mathematicians. This is not just because I taught myself calculus when I was in the 10th grade or that I made it to the Nationals in High School Math Competitions. It is because I respect the hard work that is required to reach that level of skill.

I'm quite sure you do. As do I. How many people do you think you can randomly ask (not here, obviously, where the sample would be remarkably biased) who wouldn't even know what a theoretical mathematician did all day?

rommel543
2010-Dec-14, 05:56 PM
The biggest hurdle in getting technology into schools is the cost, especially for public schools that depend on government funding. They generally have a fixed budget for technology expenditures and a $3000 3D TV to show video's can't really be justified at this point in time. Things like computers for staff and students, networks, etc all take precedent over something like that. If 3D tv's don't go the way of the Betamax and VideoDisc, and the price eventually drops I could see them EVENTUALLY getting into schools. I was at my son's high school not long ago and they still have some tubed TVs on the metal rolling racks and it's a fairly large, well affiliated public school.

Personally though I don't think a 3D TV has it's worth when it comes to non-entertainment venues. The 3D aspect is purely for sensation based entertainment. You have to sit still and just watch, any rapid movement causes the 3D effect to become slightly blurry. It's not like you can walk up to the screen and look around. To me they are like the hidden 3D pictures that were all the rage 15 years ago were you had to stare at the picture and go slightly cross eyed to actually see anything there. Once you had it you could move slightly and see the details of the object, but quick movement and the effect was broken.

If you could create a 3D environment where a person could interact with what ever is being projected... THAT would have a profound effect on science and education.

Tobin Dax
2010-Dec-15, 12:15 AM
At least to those who really understanding engineering and don't think you have something to do with trains.

There goes my conductor joke.

adapa
2010-Dec-17, 09:42 PM
That's a simplistic way of looking at compliments. What's worth noting is why people are called brilliant. What's more, it's worth noting the level on which they're considered compliments. I'll also note that you aren't actually refuting my point that the media of any era is a valuable tool for determining its values. Those who show respect for education much above the high school level are more often than not called "elitist" these days.
So, you cannot find a more enlightened period in human history. If you can, then now would be a really good time to say so. Also, the people who are referred to as elitists are those who use it as a reason to look down their noses at others. In fact, elitism can be based on many factors including income, profession, status, etc.




That's a very narrow definition of fluency. No, they didn't tell me; I was able to converse with them with little difficulty. (Though of course they were not disinclined to Spanglish!) Fluency means that you are able to hold your own in a language. There are of course levels of fluency, but I was fluent enough to listen to the gossip of the girls sitting behind me and know who was fooling around with who, for example.

But again, "fluent" doesn't just mean "able to think and dream in a language."
Yes, there are different levels of fluency. However, there is a cutoff point. Unfortunately, your weak vocabulary (by your own admission) combined with your inability to think effortlessly in the language is a disqualifier.

This also shows that you do not understand the levels of knowing.


Probably 90% of ambassadors. After all, it is, in the United States, at least in part a political post. You think Shirley Temple Black speaks Czech?
Not all diplomats have been through an immersion course. Someone with a substandard vocabulary would not be a match to a diplomat who has had the proper training. Also, do you really think that your level of skill in the language would qualify you as a linguist?




But what's important to my end of the discussion is the respect for the result, and the fact is, "levels of knowing" is only considered reasonable summary by a handful of professionals. You find it reliable, but if you had been taught a different version of it, you would probably see evidence for that as well, because it simply isn't your field.
People respect skill because they realize that it takes work to achieve it.



At least you stand a decent chance of knowing what I'm saying, though you seem quite capable of ignoring that and/or misinterpreting.
Actually, I did not try to misinterpret anything. Also, you have had a history of doing this (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/102835-Pilots-and-antidepressants/page2?highlight=pilots+and+antidepressants) (see posts#38 through #78).

Note: In these same posts, you also showed a history of debating with professionals in a topic about which you know little or nothing.



I disagree. I know people who think they're applying their learning, but since they didn't understand it in the first place, they're doing it wrong. Look at essentially anyone working in intelligent design; they think they're doing science, but they aren't. Many of them wouldn't know science if you hit them over the head with it. Without the comprehension of what they're doing, going through the motions is worthless.
Actually, you just made my point for me. There is a huge difference between knowing something and thinking that you know something. Their lack of knowledge rendered them incompetent as biologists. Similarly, a poor vocabulary in a foreign language would rule out fluency.

This further shows that you do not understand the levels of knowing.



It is generally accepted that you really only need two of the three in any sufficient quantity. I had a friend in high school who wrote great plays. Oh, they never went anywhere, because he was remarkably lazy, but he had the skill. Sufficient schooling and work ethic can overcome a substantial lack of talent to produce reasonable skill. Heck, my older sister was a more accomplished violist than I despite my greater level of natural talent, because she practiced a lot more reliably than I.
True. However, it gives strong insight into why people respect skill. I added in work ethic because it is so important. In fact, it affects 2 of the 3 factors. The truth is that people generally frown upon laziness.


I do not wish to be mean but here is what I have noticed so far:

You believe that you are fluent in a foreign language when your vocabulary is lacking.
You try to refute a theory that works in the real world when you do not understand it.
You have had a history of arguing with experienced professional pilots about aviation safety when you know little or nothing about the subject.

Do you notice a trend here? I do.

In contrast, I have taught myself (out of curiosity) the math behind why a vector potential is needed to maintain gauge symmetry in a charged field, and why the curl of the vector potential leads to the electromagnetic field tensor. Yet you will never catch me arguing this topic with a physicist or a mathematician because I chose not to overestimate what I know.

I sincerely hope (for your sake) that you find this feedback to be useful.

SkepticJ
2010-Dec-17, 10:48 PM
Look at how smart people are shown in popular movies. The image of the nerd, the geek. The earliest mention of floppy disks in popular culture that I can name is Sixteen Candles, and they were kind of an ultimate example of how out-of-touch the characters betting them were.

Yeah, Peter Parker, what an out-of-touch dork he is.

Regarding Sixteen Candles, I think you're reading too much into it. Anthony Michael Hall was chosen specifically for the role by John Hughes because he felt Hall portrayed a real geek, and not the exaggerated pocket-protected, tapped glasses geek that everyone else brought to the part.

Gillianren
2010-Dec-18, 08:09 AM
So, you cannot find a more enlightened period in human history. If you can, then now would be a really good time to say so. Also, the people who are referred to as elitists are those who use it as a reason to look down their noses at others. In fact, elitism can be based on many factors including income, profession, status, etc.

I really don't think that's true, in fact. I think anyone who uses their higher education in a way that makes it apparent to others that they have higher education is considered elitist in quite a lot of circles. As to a more enlightened time, well, there are probably more definitions of "enlightened" than there are of "fluent." There was a time when being a proper aristocrat generally involved learning, but the attitudes toward those who weren't of that class were horrible. We have a higher literacy rate than perhaps any other period in history. (We don't know for sure.) However, we are not expected to continue learning out of school, whereas Andrew Carnegie respected learning so much that he had libraries built all over the United States.


Yes, there are different levels of fluency. However, there is a cutoff point. Unfortunately, your weak vocabulary (by your own admission) combined with your inability to think effortlessly in the language is a disqualifier.

You know, if weakness of vocabulary were a cut-off point, quite a lot of people shouldn't be considered fluent in their native language. And thinking effortlessly in the language is not necessary before you can be considered fluent, even if you keep saying that it is.


This also shows that you do not understand the levels of knowing.

No, it shows that I don't understand the ones you learned, whereas you apparently haven't learned that they are not universally accepted in the educational and psychological communities.


Not all diplomats have been through an immersion course. Someone with a substandard vocabulary would not be a match to a diplomat who has had the proper training. Also, do you really think that your level of skill in the language would qualify you as a linguist?

I don't think level of skill in a language and ability as a linguist are all that interconnected. I consider myself an amateur linguist because I have put quite a lot of study into the history and development of languages. Which doesn't alter the fact that most professional diplomats spend substantial parts of their careers in countries where they don't speak the language. Does it put them at a disadvantage if the other person speaks theirs? Sure, but the other person doesn't always.


People respect skill because they realize that it takes work to achieve it.

I think they respect skill because they see what you get out of it.


Actually, I did not try to misinterpret anything. Also, you have had a history of doing this (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/102835-Pilots-and-antidepressants/page2?highlight=pilots+and+antidepressants) (see posts#38 through #78).
Note: In these same posts, you also showed a history of debating with professionals in a topic about which you know little or nothing.

How much do you know about antidepressants?


Actually, you just made my point for me. There is a huge difference between knowing something and thinking that you know something. Their lack of knowledge rendered them incompetent as biologists. Similarly, a poor vocabulary in a foreign language would rule out fluency.

I don't think you understood what I said there, either. But I'm not surprised.


This further shows that you do not understand the levels of knowing.

As you learned them, which is not universally accepted by educators and psychologists.


True. However, it gives strong insight into why people respect skill. I added in work ethic because it is so important. In fact, it affects 2 of the 3 factors. The truth is that people generally frown upon laziness.

Really? You're going to look around and tell me that? Oh, but I forgot--you don't know the basic sociological fact that a culture's media is a good reflection of its values.


I do not wish to be mean but here is what I have noticed so far:

You believe that you are fluent in a foreign language when your vocabulary is lacking.

Was fluent, have not been for years, and was relatively fluent. I understood certain aspects of it better than most of the native speakers I knew and was able to talk around those words I didn't know. Vocabulary is actually a much smaller aspect of fluency than you appear to believe.


You try to refute a theory that works in the real world when you do not understand it.

No, I think I'm demonstrating that you have a simplistic view of how people actually learn and understand.


You have had a history of arguing with experienced professional pilots about aviation safety when you know little or nothing about the subject.

Yes, well, I'm keeping my opinion about that to myself.


In contrast, I have taught myself (out of curiosity) the math behind why a vector potential is needed to maintain gauge symmetry in a charged field, and why the curl of the vector potential leads to the electromagnetic field tensor. Yet you will never catch me arguing this topic with a physicist or a mathematician because I chose not to overestimate what I know.

Well, let's see. I have taught myself etymology. I am an accomplished amateur in the field of psychology. I would, if tested, probably be able to meet all the requirements to receive a teaching license, though of course I don't have the document which would show that. I have studied sociology and anthropology. These are all relevant fields to the current discussion. You have demonstrated that you learned one view of how people learn once and have stuck to that despite any evidence to the contrary, simply because you aren't aware that there is any.


I sincerely hope (for your sake) that you find this feedback to be useful.

No, not particularly.


Yeah, Peter Parker, what an out-of-touch dork he is.

Well, yes. Until he got superpowers, he wasn't interesting to the average person. Shoot, he doesn't even have to go into the lab to make web fluid anymore.


Regarding Sixteen Candles, I think you're reading too much into it. Anthony Michael Hall was chosen specifically for the role by John Hughes because he felt Hall portrayed a real geek, and not the exaggerated pocket-protected, tapped glasses geek that everyone else brought to the part.

Sure. But the point is, he's still a geek, and John Cusack and the other kid are much more so. There's also Joan in the back brace, though we never learn enough about her to say anything about her personality.

danscope
2010-Dec-19, 07:27 PM
In the words of Bill Brassky's friends over a beer...... " ANYWAY" , As far as school is concerned, it's not in the "Magic of technology" that we are lacking. It comes down to two items : Vocabulary and Work ethic . But Both of them require..yea ... DEMAND .... WORK .
The ' WORD WEALTH ' program , most often employed in the better high schools and college prep schools is the foundation of improved learning, higher learning and even basic education . This in itself , requires steady, daily exercise in memory, comprehension , usage and spelling. And we did it in longhand.... read 'cursive' . We were required to write legibly. Each one of these skills was daily improved.
It is a gradual mini school of enlightenment . The cost is minimal . The LACK of such a program is tragic beyond comprehension. The daily quiz on word wealth took less than 7 minutes. The program's effects endure for a lifetime. Without it?
How are you to read most any quality book on science, mathematics, history, sociology , literature ? How will you understand the news of the day ? What impression will you make at an interview and with your colleagues ? How will you impress and teach your own children?
The message here is simply that we cannot throw money at education untill we have a foundation to build on. One cannot build on the quicksand of the street influence. That weed must be held in contempt and a proper light shone on that falsehood each and every moment it appears. Once a child has the advantage of vocabulary , penmanship , and the company of a campus where education is Celebrated ,
YES....Celebrated , the concept of the street , and the idea of " yo, it ain't cool to be smart " will wash away into the street drain where it belongs, and our children will walk in the light of reason , and your nation will see a better day. As teachers, we frame the future.
There are no more important teachers than parents. The decision rests with you .

SkepticJ
2010-Dec-27, 06:17 AM
Well, yes. Until he got superpowers, he wasn't interesting to the average person. Shoot, he doesn't even have to go into the lab to make web fluid anymore.

A superhero, in a superhero comic, who isn't interesting to the average person until they get their powers . . . I do declare!

Ok, then: Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic). Just off the top of my head--I'm not a comic book buff. If I cared to dig through the mountains of comic book characters I'm sure I could find more.


Sure. But the point is, he's still a geek, and John Cusack and the other kid are much more so. There's also Joan in the back brace, though we never learn enough about her to say anything about her personality.

So what? Are you denying that geeks can be awkward, more so than the baseline of humanity? Goodness knows I fit the stereotype, so much so that fellow geeks of the opposite sex would rather be single than go on a second date.

Have you ever seen a picture of John Hughes? If he wasn't one, by George he looked like a geek.

Gillianren
2010-Dec-27, 08:10 PM
A superhero, in a superhero comic, who isn't interesting to the average person until they get their powers . . . I do declare!

Ok, then: Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic). Just off the top of my head--I'm not a comic book buff. If I cared to dig through the mountains of comic book characters I'm sure I could find more.

Yes. There would be no superhero comic without the superpowers. That is, in fact, my point. There is something out-of-the-ordinary about Peter Parker. There is something out-of-the-ordinary about Reed Richards, who is frankly (ha!) still kind of boring. It's not that they wouldn't be in superhero comics without super powers; that is, as you say, pretty obvious. It's that they wouldn't be popular characters at all if they didn't have super powers. Peter Parker's a fun, charming, entertaining guy. But take him out of the comic book. Let's just have a movie about Peter Parker the science geek. Without powers. Do you think that comedy would be remotely as popular as the ones about stupid people?


So what? Are you denying that geeks can be awkward, more so than the baseline of humanity? Goodness knows I fit the stereotype, so much so that fellow geeks of the opposite sex would rather be single than go on a second date.

No, I'm saying that not all of them are, but the perception is a universal one. When was the last time you saw a geek in the popular culture who could actually get by in normal society? And yet I can name, and I'm sure you could name, a lot who have no problem with it. Yes, most of the ones I know choose not to, preferring the company of other geeks, but they can.


Have you ever seen a picture of John Hughes? If he wasn't one, by George he looked like a geek.

Have you ever learned anything about John Hughes as a person? He was not, as it happens, a geek. He was also not, as it happens, the one who cast Anthony Michael Hall in the first place.

SkepticJ
2010-Dec-27, 11:19 PM
Yes. There would be no superhero comic without the superpowers. That is, in fact, my point. There is something out-of-the-ordinary about Peter Parker. There is something out-of-the-ordinary about Reed Richards, who is frankly (ha!) still kind of boring. It's not that they wouldn't be in superhero comics without super powers; that is, as you say, pretty obvious. It's that they wouldn't be popular characters at all if they didn't have super powers. Peter Parker's a fun, charming, entertaining guy. But take him out of the comic book. Let's just have a movie about Peter Parker the science geek. Without powers. Do you think that comedy would be remotely as popular as the ones about stupid people?

You're kind of asking for it to be both ways, to both be a [spotless?] positive portrayal of geeks, and be a comedy.

Surely you, a student of the humanities, knows that virtually all comedy is at the expense of someone.
How many movies make fun of the stupid football jocks? Do you feel sympathy for their negative portrayal? Most people who play football are more intelligent, and less crude and rude than they're portrayed in fiction.

Of course some features are turned to 11 in comedies. They're comedies, not accurate portrayals of reality. Reality isn't that funny.

There's something out of the ordinary with most fictional characters. That's what makes them interesting. If they were mundane, we'd spend our time reading about or watching their adventures why? I have a personality somewhat like Jim Halpert, but I'm not terribly funny, so who'd want to watch a TV show with a main character like me?

You have noticed that male geeks often hook up with attractive women at the end of movies, haven't you? Woe unto those poor saps who . . . wooed the hot girl with their amiable, nerdy ways.

I'm also not sure what you're complaining about with comedies that involve stupid people. They're making fun of those people, they're not role models to aspire to. Beavis and Butthead, Ron Burgundy, Ricky Bobby, Dewy Cox, Ren and Stimpy, Johnny Bravo, David Brent, Michael Scott, Andy Bernard, Kelly Kapoor, Philip J. Fry . . .


No, I'm saying that not all of them are, but the perception is a universal one. When was the last time you saw a geek in the popular culture who could actually get by in normal society? And yet I can name, and I'm sure you could name, a lot who have no problem with it. Yes, most of the ones I know choose not to, preferring the company of other geeks, but they can.

Bruce Wayne. No superpowers, suave, suave man, and you tell me he's not a geek.

Kaylee Frye, from Firefly. No powers, geek.

Daria Morgendorffer.

Scott Pilgrim.

Do real people count? The cast of MythBusters.


Have you ever learned anything about John Hughes as a person? He was not, as it happens, a geek. He was also not, as it happens, the one who cast Anthony Michael Hall in the first place.

I've not read his biography, but yeah, I've read a little bit about him. How exactly do you define the term "geek"? It's a pretty inclusive term, to me. Basically anyone who's intelligent and has certain interests that most people don't.

Oh, well, I got that info from TCM. So, who really did?

Gillianren
2010-Dec-28, 12:14 AM
You're kind of asking for it to be both ways, to both be a [spotless?] positive portrayal of geeks, and be a comedy.

No, I'm looking for balance. An occasion when the geek isn't the butt of the joke.


Surely you, a student of the humanities, knows that virtually all comedy is at the expense of someone.

I really don't think I'd agree with that. Indeed, I think the best comedy comes when you're in sympathy with the people involved.


How many movies make fun of the stupid football jocks? Do you feel sympathy for their negative portrayal? Most people who play football are more intelligent, and less crude and rude than they're portrayed in fiction.

How many more want us to aspire to be like them--tough and cool and the one who gets the girl?


Of course some features are turned to 11 in comedies. They're comedies, not accurate portrayals of reality. Reality isn't that funny.

Oh, I don't know. The world strikes me as hilarious sometimes.


There's something out of the ordinary with most fictional characters. That's what makes them interesting. If they were mundane, we'd spend our time reading about or watching their adventures why? I have a personality somewhat like Jim Halpert, but I'm not terribly funny, so who'd want to watch a TV show with a main character like me?

Depends. What kind of TV show is it? There is, after all, more to media than comedy and superheroes.


You have noticed that male geeks often hook up with attractive women at the end of movies, haven't you? Woe unto those poor saps who . . . wooed the hot girl with their amiable, nerdy ways.

Mmm. I wouldn't say often, no. I would say "occasionally." At that, it's usually in extremely improbable ways.


I'm also not sure what you're complaining about with comedies that involve stupid people. They're making fun of those people, they're not role models to aspire to. Beavis and Butthead, Ron Burgundy, Ricky Bobby, Dewy Cox, Ren and Stimpy, Johnny Bravo, David Brent, Michael Scott, Andy Bernard, Kelly Kapoor, Philip J. Fry . . .

And who do you sympathize with? Who's your perspective character? I'll acknowledge I'm not sure who all those people are, as I don't watch much TV and have watched practically no comedies made in the last ten years--but it's because they're all about stupid people who still somehow come out ahead.


Bruce Wayne. No superpowers, suave, suave man, and you tell me he's not a geek.

But Bruce isn't the important character. Batman isn't suave; he's vicious, really. And, no, he isn't a geek. He's scarred. He's seriously ill. His focus is not on the technology; his focus is on filling the hole inside himself which can never be filled.


Kaylee Frye, from Firefly. No powers, geek.

Show canceled in less than a season. Character really more about the chipper, with the techie as an incongruity.


Daria Morgendorffer.

Only a cult favourite; never made anything approaching the splash of the show from which hers was spun off. Not, based on the little I've seen, a geek anyway.


Scott Pilgrim.

Made a big splash in one movie and will doubtless ebb from the public's consciousness.


Do real people count? The cast of MythBusters.

Popular among geeks. Which does add a little bit of evidence to the idea that the President of the United States is a geek--and quite a charismatic one, leaving aside any political attributes.


I've not read his biography, but yeah, I've read a little bit about him. How exactly do you define the term "geek"? It's a pretty inclusive term, to me. Basically anyone who's intelligent and has certain interests that most people don't.

Ah. This may be part of the problem. The media definition of "geek" is someone who is very intelligent, smarter than the bright main character, and is into science and often specifically computers. Now, I am a firm believer in "genre geeks"--the math geek, the science geek, and so forth, but I do follow the tradition of geeks for the sciences and nerds for the humanities. And heck, at least geeks are seen as important to society, even if you don't actually want to be around them. But a geek is always shown as having interests which make them outcasts to general society. It's okay to see The Dark Knight. Everyone did. However, if you are over the age of twelve and have any of the merchandise, you are lacking in social graces and might as well be wearing headgear.


Oh, well, I got that info from TCM. So, who really did?

You might be surprised to know that it was the casting director. Jackie Burch chose between Hall and a guy named Eric Gurry. She chose Hall because he was quieter.

SkepticJ
2010-Dec-28, 06:57 AM
No, I'm looking for balance. An occasion when the geek isn't the butt of the joke.

Geordi La Forge, Mr. Spock, Montgomery Scott, Data, Beverly Crusher, Jean-Luc Picard, and others from the Star Trek franchise.

Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler, Ian Malcolm - Jurassic Park

Bill and Jo Harding - Twister

Daniel Jackson - Stargate

Q - James Bond franchise

Angus MacGyver - MacGyver

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker (at least as a child)--really any Jedi, if you think about it.

Motoko Kusanagi, Batou - Ghost in the Shell

Jim Hawking - Outlaw Star

"Radical" Edward - Cowboy Bebop

Washu Hakubi, the various Tenchi series.

Neo - The Matrix

James Steam - Steamboy

Cale Tucker, Akima Kunimoto - Titan A.E.

Gadget Hackwrench - Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers

Donatello - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Benton Quest - Johnny Quest

Charles Xavier - X-Men

H. George Wells, or Alexander Hartdegen - The Time Machine films

Pierre Aronnax, Capt. Nemo - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Oliver Lindenbrook, Alexander McKuen - Journey to the Center of the Earth

Chris Knight - Real Genius

John Mathewson, Paul Stephens - The Manhattan Project

Buckaroo Banzai - The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

Dave Bowman, Frank Poole - 2001: A Space Odyssey

Heywood Floyd, Walter Curnow, Dr. Chandra - 2010

Sam Bell - Moon

Kevin Flynn - Tron

Rupert Burns - Bicentennial Man

More?


I really don't think I'd agree with that. Indeed, I think the best comedy comes when you're in sympathy with the people involved.

Just because the humor is at the expense of a character doesn't mean you don't like them. When Felix is driving Oscar crazy with his neuroses in The Odd Couple, and Oscar makes witty remarks making fun of his behavior, that's some funny stuff, but I care about both the characters.


Mmm. I wouldn't say often, no. I would say "occasionally." At that, it's usually in extremely improbable ways.

Well, it is probably wish fulfillment, so by its very nature it's improbable. In the real world, someone who looks like Megan Fox would more likely hook her arm through a rock star's than that of a geek who looks like Shia LaBeouf or Justin Long, no matter what their personality. "Nice guys finish last," I believe the saying is.



And who do you sympathize with? Who's your perspective character? I'll acknowledge I'm not sure who all those people are, as I don't watch much TV and have watched practically no comedies made in the last ten years--but it's because they're all about stupid people who still somehow come out ahead.

Out of that list? Really only Fry. He may be an idiot, but he has a heart and means well.


But Bruce isn't the important character. Batman isn't suave; he's vicious, really. And, no, he isn't a geek. He's scarred. He's seriously ill. His focus is not on the technology; his focus is on filling the hole inside himself which can never be filled.

Well, that rather depends on what version of Batman you're going with, as to how screwed up he is.

Well, I meant he's a geek in the sense that he's literally a genius, and does stuff with arcane tools, some of which he developed himself. He's a scientist/martial artist/genius/entrepreneur/vigilante/pseudo-playboy. He doesn't have to have a technology fetish to be a geek.


Show canceled in less than a season. Character really more about the chipper, with the techie as an incongruity.

Well, you can really blame idiots for that. If it had been marketed better and actually given a chance, it might've become the next Star Trek. Show canceled in less than a season which got a theatrical release movie with a budget of $39 mil.

Or, you know, realistic people have multiple facets, and aren't just one category.


Only a cult favourite; never made anything approaching the splash of the show from which hers was spun off. Not, based on the little I've seen, a geek anyway.

You haven't watched enough of it, then.


Popular among geeks. Which does add a little bit of evidence to the idea that the President of the United States is a geek--and quite a charismatic one, leaving aside any political attributes.

I'm not sure you understand just how widely popular MythBusters is. Somewhat like Star Trek, the most enthusiastic viewers are geeks, but the viewing base is quite wide. You think the Discovery Channel has been pandering to a minority for just shy of eight years, now?

Gillianren
2010-Dec-28, 08:06 AM
Geordi La Forge, Mr. Spock, Montgomery Scott, Data, Beverly Crusher, Jean-Luc Picard, and others from the Star Trek franchise.

Leaving aside the debate of whether I'd call all of them geeks--and I wouldn't and don't think anyone else would, either--Star Trek is itself something where the fandom is assumed to be lacking in social graces.


Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler, Ian Malcolm - Jurassic Park

Compare book to movie. Though honestly, the problem in Crichton tends to be sexism--compare Book Lex to Movie Lex. And remember that Ian Malcolm is specifically referred to as being a "rock star," looking for the "next ex-Mrs. Ian Malcolm." Not a man exactly rolling in social skills. And, of course, Movie Ian is more appealing than Book Ian, hence the amazing resuscitation for the second book.


Bill and Jo Harding - Twister

Um . . . you know, I don't think people watching that movie really thought of the characters as being about the science, even though they were.


Daniel Jackson - Stargate

I really don't think you understand that attitude not-geeks have toward science fiction.


Q - James Bond franchise

Yeah, a character played by John Cleese is rolling in respect.


Angus MacGyver - MacGyver

Pop culture joke.


Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker (at least as a child)--really any Jedi, if you think about it.

Um, no. Unless you count Jet Li's character in pretty much any Jet Li movie as a geek.


Motoko Kusanagi, Batou - Ghost in the Shell

Representation of a different culture from the United States; not very popular here. I can't speak to Japan, of course.


Jim Hawking - Outlaw Star

I wouldn't know; I'm not familiar with Outlaw Star.


"Radical" Edward - Cowboy Bebop

Yeah, I'm disqualifying anime as a whole, because in the US, it's a sign of geekdom to have even heard of anything more out of the American mainstream than maybe Spirited Away and probably not even that. Dragonball Z is more this culture's speed.


Washu Hakubi, the various Tenchi series.

See above.


Neo - The Matrix

Superhero disqualification.


James Steam - Steamboy

Really?


Cale Tucker, Akima Kunimoto - Titan A.E.

Which did so well in the American market.


Gadget Hackwrench - Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers

Ah, yes. Full of social graces and not at all awkward. Completely able to get along with normal people.


Donatello - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Yeah, by the standards of the other Ninja Turtles, sure.


Benton Quest - Johnny Quest

Pop culture punchline.


Charles Xavier - X-Men

Geekdom icon.


H. George Wells, or Alexander Hartdegen - The Time Machine films

One of which was decades ago and the other of which bombed. Also, I hear, wasn't actually very good anyway.


Pierre Aronnax, Capt. Nemo - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Nemo, the character the average person has heard of, is a raging sociopath. A fearsome tyrant. Do we think of the fact that the Nautilus is his design? We do not. No film adaptation thus far has emphasized that aspect of his nature over essentially everything else, to the point that I don't think the average person would even realize he had designed the Nautilus.


Oliver Lindenbrook, Alexander McKuen - Journey to the Center of the Earth

I am too taken aback to even respond. The thing you don't seem to realize is that a lot of the characters you're bringing up fall under the superhero exemption. The only reason anyone who isn't a geek thinks they're cool is the action scenes.


Chris Knight - Real Genius

Played by Val Kilmer? Also crazy; all the geniuses in that movie are either crazy or socially stunted or possibly both, though I do agree that it's the closest the '80s had to a sympathetic portrayal of intelligent people as real people.


John Mathewson, Paul Stephens - The Manhattan Project

Is that a movie about the actual Manhattan Project? Because if so, wouldn't actual Manhattan Project scientists be under discussion? If not, I've never heard of it.


Buckaroo Banzai - The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

Oh, yes. That's not even a pop culture punchline. That's a cult classic with a fairly small cult.


Dave Bowman, Frank Poole - 2001: A Space Odyssey

But all the average person remembers is HAL.


Heywood Floyd, Walter Curnow, Dr. Chandra - 2010

The average person doesn't even realize this movie exists.


Sam Bell - Moon

I won't call this a cult classic; it hasn't been out long enough. It is, however, a movie with a cult following. Most people haven't heard of it.


Kevin Flynn - Tron

Action sequences.


Rupert Burns - Bicentennial Man

Unless he was Robin Williams, no one remembers him, because no one actually saw that movie.


More?

Sure. I enjoy seeing how deep in the bottom of the barrel you're planning to scrape.


Just because the humor is at the expense of a character doesn't mean you don't like them. When Felix is driving Oscar crazy with his neuroses in The Odd Couple, and Oscar makes witty remarks making fun of his behavior, that's some funny stuff, but I care about both the characters.

But which one are you supposed to sympathize with, the smart but fastidious one or the less intelligent and sloppy one?


Well, it is probably wish fulfillment, so by its very nature it's improbable. In the real world, someone who looks like Megan Fox would more likely hook her arm through a rock star's than that of a geek who looks like Shia LaBeouf or Justin Long, no matter what their personality. "Nice guys finish last," I believe the saying is.

Actually, that's a misquote, but let it go. That isn't why I said it was improbable. I said it was improbable not because of the physical appearance of the woman but because they're generally two characters with literally nothing in common who will like as not break up about three days after the end of the story. On the rare occasion when the true geek gets the girl.


Out of that list? Really only Fry. He may be an idiot, but he has a heart and means well.

I didn't mean you personally. I mean the intention of the creators.


Well, that rather depends on what version of Batman you're going with, as to how screwed up he is.

Only to a certain extent. Unless we're entering Adam West into the running, which rather leaves out "suave." After all, this is a man driven by his past to dress up as a giant bat and go fight criminals. Batman is not a role model.


Well, I meant he's a geek in the sense that he's literally a genius, and does stuff with arcane tools, some of which he developed himself. He's a scientist/martial artist/genius/entrepreneur/vigilante/pseudo-playboy. He doesn't have to have a technology fetish to be a geek.

No, but everything he does is based on the single motivation. It's not for the love of doing what he's doing. It's so he can go out at night and trash some bozos.


Well, you can really blame idiots for that. If it had been marketed better and actually given a chance, it might've become the next Star Trek. Show canceled in less than a season which got a theatrical release movie with a budget of $39 mil.

And the movie didn't make a heck of a lot, either. And the reason for that is the same as the reason the show was canceled. No one was watching.


Or, you know, realistic people have multiple facets, and aren't just one category.

I think you misunderstand. It's not that Kaylee shouldn't have had more than one facet. It's that part of the joke is that she's this sweet, chirpy little thing who's also a rocket whiz. Watch carefully. You're supposed to be laughing about it.


You haven't watched enough of it, then.

Yes, well, neither did anyone else.


I'm not sure you understand just how widely popular MythBusters is. Somewhat like Star Trek, the most enthusiastic viewers are geeks, but the viewing base is quite wide. You think the Discovery Channel has been pandering to a minority for just shy of eight years, now?

Well, yes. By definition. Any show that actually pulled in a majority audience for more than a single episode would be the most phenomenally successful show pretty much in television history. The Discovery Channel is almost certainly pulling in a smaller audience than the networks at any given time, probably substantially so. The only basic cable shows even approaching network shows in the ratings is The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and they aren't quite there yet. They have to capture a much smaller ratings share than the networks in order to be worth the channel's keeping on the air. And you note that, when they try to create a new series to snag that same audience, all they really seem to think to duplicate is the explosions bit. You might also consider comparing how many shows about ghost hunting appear even on channels ostensibly aimed at an intelligent audience as compared to actual intelligent programming.

SkepticJ
2010-Dec-28, 09:03 AM
How did I know? How did I know? I knew you wouldn't accept those examples. To do so would invalidate a view you seem keen on holding onto dearly for some reason.

Well, that was a waste of a couple of hours recalling perfectly valid positive portrayals of geeks in media I've seen to have them discounted under what amounts to "Da, da, those don't count!"

You keep shifting the goal posts, and I'm tired of running.

Adéu.

Gillianren
2010-Dec-28, 06:07 PM
You pulled out a whole list of characters most people couldn't identify on a bet and used it to claim it balanced a culture built on the popularity of the stupid. I think you proved my point for me. And you spelled "adieu" wrong.

GeorgeLeRoyTirebiter
2010-Dec-28, 11:13 PM
For anyone wanting to see how little general attitudes toward intelligence have changed in the past half-century, go see if your library has Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter. Update the language a little (substitute "geek" for "egghead") and it would be hard to tell that it was published in 1963.

John Jaksich
2010-Dec-28, 11:58 PM
For anyone wanting to see how little general attitudes toward intelligence have changed in the past half-century, go see if your library has Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter. Update the language a little (substitute "geek" for "egghead") and it would be hard to tell that it was published in 1963.


Thanks for the reference---it might prove vital to see the author's conclusion--is a market-based economy of the U.S. better a model for education than --let's say Finland's or the Netherlands'?

The country does not rank as high in the science/math/& reading skills as it may have once before?

--or should I say we need to change our attitudes towards education?

ritchyrev
2010-Dec-29, 12:02 AM
And you spelled "adieu" wrong.

Adéu

If she was speaking French yes.

But not in Spanish.

SeanF
2010-Dec-29, 12:25 AM
Adéu

If she was speaking French yes.

But not in Spanish.
If she was speaking Spanish, she misspelled "adios." :)

SkepticJ
2010-Dec-29, 04:22 AM
You pulled out a whole list of characters most people couldn't identify on a bet and used it to claim it balanced a culture built on the popularity of the stupid. I think you proved my point for me. And you spelled "adieu" wrong.

I know it's a mistake to not let this topic go, but here goes anyway . . .

You list me some examples of stupid characters that aren't the butt of the joke. Do it. I defy you to find morons who are held up to be examples of something someone should aspire to be, instead of laugh at.

Every single example of the simpleton I can think of is the joke. From the band members in This is Spinal Tap, to Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation, to Dee Dee from Dexter's Laboratory.

From the bubble-headed Valley Girl, to the Stupid Football Jock, to the Stereotypical Southern Hick, ignorance and mental deficiency is mocked in the media.

Indeed, the culture at large is none too kind toward those who don't think very well. See the prevalence of the use of the word "retard" by children and teens to insult someone who's done or said something stupid.

Gillianren
2010-Dec-29, 05:25 AM
Okay. Let's look at what's on network television as I write this. It's 9:03 PST.

On ABC, we have No Ordinary Family. I'll admit to being unfamiliar with the show.

On CBS, we have NCIS. I've watched a little of it. As with all shows of its genre, the smarter the characters are, the less able to fit into anything approaching the Real World they are. The audience sympathy characters are a little out of their depth with the geniuses. If we stayed tuned until Thursday, we can watch characters who are supposed to be both intelligent and sympathetic and manage, from the episodes I've seen, to be neither.

On NBC, we have football. Oh, sure, there's the stereotype of the Dumb Football Jock, but the football player is far more often a role model. After all, we're willing to pay them millions of dollars for what they do. Sandra Bullock won an Oscar earlier this year for playing the good-hearted woman who takes in a dumb football player and teaches him to make something of himself.

And okay, let's look at anything involving National Lampoon. It strikes me that anything starring Chevy Chase has a stupid person as the main character. Yes, he seems to have finally pretty much killed his career, but it's almost entirely based on buffoonery. Most comedies which have come out over the last ten years have been based around either a generic schlub or a manic man-child. See also the career of Will Ferrel. The successful movies of Adam Sandler. The fact that Rob Schneider has had a career at all. Which is more successful? Austin Powers, where Mike Myers played an over-the-top stereotype for cheap laughs (if there were any sense in audiences, the second one should have killed the franchise), or So I Married an Axe Murderer, where he plays an intelligent man in over his head? I am now looking at a list of the top-grossing films of 2010, though of course no proper list can be put out until next weekend. Let's consider some, shall we?

Clash of the Titans, a movie universally acknowledged to have been terrible, is at number eleven. At number twelve, we have the highest non-animated comedy. It's Grown Ups, a movie which actually featured in its commercial a scene wherein the main characters have demonstrably peed in a pool. The nineteenth-ranked movie, I'm not even allowed to say the name on the board, but let us say it's a movie about men making fools of themselves. The fourth-ranked movie is about a girl who is not only the audience sympathy character but the author avatar, and she just lets life happen to her in a thinly-veiled abstinence message. There is one movie in the top ten I would say is both intelligent and not a children's movie--or seen as one, despite the fact that a character in one gets falling-down drunk and again is explicitly said to have peed on himself.

Oh, right; yes, it could be argued that Tony Stark is a geek. Honestly, it's an easier argument than that Bruce Wayne is one. However, let's say Tony Stark never built the suit. Never went to Afghanistan and had to. He's a funny guy; let's even make it a comedy. Are you really trying to tell me that you think Tony Stark without the suit could back a movie which would gross over three hundred million dollars just in the theatres? Do you really think the action sequences aren't what makes the difference? In that case, explain the added action sequences to Voyage of the Dawn Treader and the fact that a movie everyone knew to be a gimmick made over one hundred million dollars based simply on the fact that a bunch of guys we've seen blow stuff up all our lives are now blowing stuff up again.

I'd also point out that the Bubble-Headed Valley Girl and the Stupid Football Jock are always the love interest in teen movies. The audience focus character is supposed to be interested in them--and know that they're outclassed.

ritchyrev
2010-Dec-29, 07:55 AM
If she was speaking Spanish, she misspelled "adios." :)

No, copy adéu into Google.

ADÉU ESPANYA

SeanF
2010-Dec-29, 12:53 PM
No, copy adéu into Google.

ADÉU ESPANYA
Unless I'm very much mistaken, "ADÉU ESPANYA" is how to say "Goodbye Spain" in Catalan.

And unless I'm very much mistaken again, Catalan is not Spanish.

Gillianren
2010-Dec-29, 07:05 PM
No, copy adéu into Google.

ADÉU ESPANYA

If you're Catalan. Which is actually different.

SkepticJ
2010-Dec-29, 11:54 PM
On CBS, we have NCIS. I've watched a little of it. As with all shows of its genre, the smarter the characters are, the less able to fit into anything approaching the Real World they are. The audience sympathy characters are a little out of their depth with the geniuses. If we stayed tuned until Thursday, we can watch characters who are supposed to be both intelligent and sympathetic and manage, from the episodes I've seen, to be neither.

Writer's fault?


On NBC, we have football. Oh, sure, there's the stereotype of the Dumb Football Jock, but the football player is far more often a role model. After all, we're willing to pay them millions of dollars for what they do. Sandra Bullock won an Oscar earlier this year for playing the good-hearted woman who takes in a dumb football player and teaches him to make something of himself.

Is there something particularly wrong with having a football player be a role model? What about soldiers? Or should only geeks be the role models?

You do know that only a small fraction of football players make a career out of it? The good ones get football scholarships and get their education paid for in exchange for playing a game well. Not a bad deal, there.


And okay, let's look at anything involving National Lampoon. It strikes me that anything starring Chevy Chase has a stupid person as the main character. Yes, he seems to have finally pretty much killed his career, but it's almost entirely based on buffoonery. Most comedies which have come out over the last ten years have been based around either a generic schlub or a manic man-child. See also the career of Will Ferrel. The successful movies of Adam Sandler. The fact that Rob Schneider has had a career at all. Which is more successful? Austin Powers, where Mike Myers played an over-the-top stereotype for cheap laughs (if there were any sense in audiences, the second one should have killed the franchise), or So I Married an Axe Murderer, where he plays an intelligent man in over his head? I am now looking at a list of the top-grossing films of 2010, though of course no proper list can be put out until next weekend. Let's consider some, shall we?

Ah, I see what the problem is, you're confusing "stupid" humor with stupid people.

I've only seen a few Chevy Chase movies, but his characters are never stupid*, they just do stupid things--the products of minds that have cracked under the pressure.

Again, you just don't seem to be getting it. Their antics make them the butt of the joke. You laugh at them, not with them. If that kind of humor doesn't appeal to you, that's fine. Not everyone likes the same thing. For you to assume that people who enjoy humor like that are somehow lacking in mental faculties is rather snobbish and insulting.

I enjoyed Happy Gilmore, I enjoyed Anchorman, Zoolander is one of my favorite movies.


Clash of the Titans, a movie universally acknowledged to have been terrible, is at number eleven. At number twelve, we have the highest non-animated comedy. It's Grown Ups, a movie which actually featured in its commercial a scene wherein the main characters have demonstrably peed in a pool. The nineteenth-ranked movie, I'm not even allowed to say the name on the board, but let us say it's a movie about men making fools of themselves. The fourth-ranked movie is about a girl who is not only the audience sympathy character but the author avatar, and she just lets life happen to her in a thinly-veiled abstinence message. There is one movie in the top ten I would say is both intelligent and not a children's movie--or seen as one, despite the fact that a character in one gets falling-down drunk and again is explicitly said to have peed on himself.

And the highest grossing movie of all time has as its third most important character a very human scientist.

I guess Avatar doesn't count, though, since "it was really more about the action scenes".


Oh, right; yes, it could be argued that Tony Stark is a geek. Honestly, it's an easier argument than that Bruce Wayne is one. However, let's say Tony Stark never built the suit. Never went to Afghanistan and had to. He's a funny guy; let's even make it a comedy. Are you really trying to tell me that you think Tony Stark without the suit could back a movie which would gross over three hundred million dollars just in the theatres? Do you really think the action sequences aren't what makes the difference? In that case, explain the added action sequences to Voyage of the Dawn Treader and the fact that a movie everyone knew to be a gimmick made over one hundred million dollars based simply on the fact that a bunch of guys we've seen blow stuff up all our lives are now blowing stuff up again.

I'm sorry you despise action movies so much.

Since the presence of action scenes invalidates the movie, what exactly would you want Tony to be doing? Making his inventions and pursuing a romantic interest? Going on an adventure? Something has to be at stake in a movie, He can't just be witty and work in his lab.

I rather like that a scientist/engineer is portrayed as being able to be an action hero too. I guess you'd rather complain.

Nostalgia?

Really, if what you say is true, then shouldn't any movie that has lots of gun fights and explosions be a blockbuster?


I'd also point out that the Bubble-Headed Valley Girl and the Stupid Football Jock are always the love interest in teen movies. The audience focus character is supposed to be interested in them--and know that they're outclassed.

Always? Let's see: Sixteen Candles, Lucas, Say Anything, Better Off Dead.

*In Christmas Vacation his character is either a scientist, or at least speaks the language; in Funny Farm he's an author.

Gillianren
2010-Dec-30, 12:47 AM
Writer's fault?

In part. However, I was thinking about this last night, and I figured out the issue. The issue is, we don't want the hero to be more intelligent than we are. There are exceptions to this, but in the case of those exceptions, there must then be something else to make the audience able to feel equal or superior.


Is there something particularly wrong with having a football player be a role model? What about soldiers? Or should only geeks be the role models?

No, but you can't then argue that the Dumb Football Player is a cultural icon large enough to outweigh the lengthy list of times we're supposed to then idolize the character.


You do know that only a small fraction of football players make a career out of it? The good ones get football scholarships and get their education paid for in exchange for playing a game well. Not a bad deal, there.

Yes, but the American people don't care. Have you ever seen the documentary Hoop Dreams? It's pretty grim.


Ah, I see what the problem is, you're confusing "stupid" humor with stupid people.

No; I'm pointing out that the characters in "stupid" movies are by definition stupid themselves.


I've only seen a few Chevy Chase movies, but his characters are never stupid*, they just do stupid things--the products of minds that have cracked under the pressure.

Yes, they are indeed stupid. After all, they in general let themselves in for those situations. Craziness does not just blindly happen to them. I mean, look at The Three Amigos, which my friends tell me is worth watching even if you can't stand Chevy Chase. (They're wrong.) How long into the movie does it take them to figure out what's going on?


Again, you just don't seem to be getting it. Their antics make them the butt of the joke. You laugh at them, not with them. If that kind of humor doesn't appeal to you, that's fine. Not everyone likes the same thing. For you to assume that people who enjoy humor like that are somehow lacking in mental faculties is rather snobbish and insulting.

Oh, that was never my point. My point was that the characters in the movies are idiots. And they are intended by the writers to be the audience's focus character, the one they sympathize with. They're considered enough to carry the movie by themselves, because we as a culture would rather laugh at stupid people than laugh with smart people.


I enjoyed Happy Gilmore, I enjoyed Anchorman, Zoolander is one of my favorite movies.

I'm sure.


And the highest grossing movie of all time has as its third most important character a very human scientist.

Right. After the action hero and the girl who's tough but not tough enough not to need the action hero.


I guess Avatar doesn't count, though, since "it was really more about the action scenes".

Avatar was more about the pretty.


I'm sorry you despise action movies so much.

Where, exactly, did I say that? I said that people go to see action movies to watch things blow up, not because of the plot. Are you going to pretend that isn't true?


Since the presence of action scenes invalidates the movie, what exactly would you want Tony to be doing? Making his inventions and pursuing a romantic interest? Going on an adventure? Something has to be at stake in a movie, He can't just be witty and work in his lab.

Why not? After all, there is that relationship with Pepper Potts. (Stan Lee never gets to name anyone ever again.) The last movie did some interesting exploration into the nature of his relationship with his father. Yes, there has to be something at stake in order to make a good movie, but it doesn't have to be the Fate of Civilization As We Know It. Ideally, even in an action movie, the thing at stake should be a character we care about.


I rather like that a scientist/engineer is portrayed as being able to be an action hero too. I guess you'd rather complain.

No. What I'm complaining about is this perverse belief that having the occasional action movie hero be a techie of some sort means that society shows an obvious preference for intelligence. I think it's what makes the Iron Man movies better than a lot of other superhero movies, I grant you--and I watch a lot of superhero movies. I mean, James Bond is one of the longest-running and best-grossing movie continuities in history, but you only see the tech guy for five minutes, and I again point out that they felt perfectly comfortable giving the character to John Cleese. You brushed off my objection there, but let me explain it in a little more detail. John Cleese is a fine actor, but there's one way he's typecast. He portrays intelligent characters most of the time, but their very intelligence makes them pompous or shortsighted in some way. They're not characters you're supposed to respect. They're characters you're supposed to brush off in order to get to, in this particular case, the bits where things blow up.


Nostalgia?

Sure. For guys who blew things up.


Really, if what you say is true, then shouldn't any movie that has lots of gun fights and explosions be a blockbuster?

Well, Michael Bay has a career, doesn't he?


Always? Let's see: Sixteen Candles, Lucas, Say Anything, Better Off Dead.

Do you enjoy proving my points for me? Yes. In Sixteen Candles, Molly Ringwald gets the guy of her dreams after about the worst possible day imaginable for an average high school character. However, she is idealizing the teen idol. Farmer Ted, there, ends up with the blonde at the end of the movie, but that's what I mean about an unbelievable ending. There's nothing inherently wrong with him, but he and the blonde will have absolutely nothing to talk about. She doesn't remember anything about the night before, particularly, and she's willing to believe that they must have had, shall we say, a great time together, because she can't think of any other reason to have ended up asleep in a car with him. Frankly, I don't think he would be interested in her as anything but a sex object by the time Samantha and Jake are sharing their cake together.

Lucas, I'm not sure I've ever seen all the way through, but how does Corey Haim think he's going to get the girl? By going out for the football team, because he knows that's what the girls in his school admire.

As it happens, I just watched Say Anything . . . last night. In many ways, Lloyd Dobler is too good to be true. Sure, he's kind of a wastrel with no real ambition, but in that sense, he almost resembles any woman whose goal in life is to get married. And, yes, he does end up with "the brain in the body of a game show hostess." (Though Cameron Crowe apparently doesn't think their relationship will last, I've read.) However, do also remember that his female friends think Diane Court will break his heart. Literally everyone in the movie begins it thinking she's got him outclassed. Frankly, I still kind of end the movie thinking that. But here's how Cameron Crowe is a better writer than the average person who writes teen movies. Diane Court is a pretty messed up young lady. Lloyd tells the drunk kid at the party that the way he ended up going to the party with her was because he asked her. Remember that almost everyone signs her yearbook by saying they wished they'd known her better. I don't think a lot of the guys at their high school would even have the nerve to ask her out. Also remember that Bebe Neuwirth's character thinks that Lloyd is wasting his potential. That's popular in our culture as well. Being smart is okay if you're also a slacker.

Better Off Dead, I'll admit I haven't seen in a long time, but as I recall, very few of the characters in it are worth the time of day. John Cusack almost seems to end up with Foreign Exchange Student Girl because she'd do just about anything to avoid dealing with that kid from her host family. Wouldn't you?

But again, this is wish fulfillment from the audience. When they test screened Pretty in Pink with the original ending, the one where Andie and Duckie ended up together, the audience booed. They wanted her to end up with the rich hunk, not the wacky friend. (I find Duckie to be tedious at best, but I seem to be alone in that. The fandom kind of creeps Jon Cryer out sometimes.) Duckie made a decent friend, but not a love interest.


*In Christmas Vacation his character is either a scientist, or at least speaks the language; in Funny Farm he's an author.

Yeah, and Denise Richards is a nuclear physicist in one of the Bond movies. Doesn't mean anyone believed her in the part.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Dec-30, 11:05 PM
Claiming that the fact that intelligent people are all portrayed as flawed because there's something wrong with the way intelligence is seen, is really missing the point that all characters on TV are flawed in some way. They have to be, otherwise it would be impossible to write interestingly about then every single week of the series run.

Try instead to focus on whether there are popular series where the intelligence is shown as an asset for the character and you might get a more nuanced look that doesn't require "no real scotsman" logic to discuss.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Dec-31, 12:10 AM
Scott Pilgrim.
Made a big splash in one movie and will doubtless ebb from the public's consciousness.

My reason for excluding him would be that he's really rather stupid though highly pop-culture aware, not a geek.
Plus he's a superhero so is excluded by that criterion as well.

SkepticJ
2010-Dec-31, 12:39 AM
Claiming that the fact that intelligent people are all portrayed as flawed because there's something wrong with the way intelligence is seen, is really missing the point that all characters on TV are flawed in some way. They have to be, otherwise it would be impossible to write interestingly about then every single week of the series run.

Try instead to focus on whether there are popular series where the intelligence is shown as an asset for the character and you might get a more nuanced look that doesn't require "no real scotsman" logic to discuss.

Good luck getting her to admit that.

Star Trek is a big one. Virtually every good guy character in TOS, TNG, and their respective films are intelligent, and this is shown as an asset. How many times do Geordi's and Scotty's technical acumen save the day? How often does Picard's erudition and level-headedness bring about an acceptable resolution to a difficult problem? Kirk's no dummy, either.

For some reason, Gillian thinks only geeks watch Star Trek, and could identify its characters.

Gillianren
2010-Dec-31, 01:07 AM
Star Trek is a big one. Virtually every good guy character in TOS, TNG, and their respective films are intelligent, and this is shown as an asset. How many times do Geordi's and Scotty's technical acumen save the day? How often does Picard's erudition and level-headedness bring about an acceptable resolution to a difficult problem? Kirk's no dummy, either.

Kirk is not exactly who I'd go to for intelligence. Spock, now. On the other hand, Spock is considered a lesser person by the standards of the show because all he has is intellect. He suppresses his emotions and has even been told directly that instinct is more important. Really, the most intelligent character on any given series is always the one who needs to Learn a Valuable Lesson About Human Nature.


For some reason, Gillian thinks only geeks watch Star Trek, and could identify its characters.

No. I'm saying that Star Trek is a show for geeks, aimed at geeks, and has been almost since its inception. The makers know that. Why do you think they jettisoned so much of the original continuity for the new one? They knew the majority of watchers wouldn't care. They were aiming for a larger audience, because Star Trek is believed in popular culture to be the domain of the geek.

I'm perfectly aware that any well-written character is flawed and that perfect ones are boring. The issue is what attributes are shown to be failings. And even leaving that aside, let's get back to the television issue. Specifically MythBusters. Why don't we go ahead and compare the ratings between MythBusters and, oh, Two and a Half Men. You go on. Tell me whether the intelligent show or the show with stupid people is more popular.

SkepticJ
2010-Dec-31, 03:53 AM
Kirk is not exactly who I'd go to for intelligence. Spock, now. On the other hand, Spock is considered a lesser person by the standards of the show because all he has is intellect. He suppresses his emotions and has even been told directly that instinct is more important. Really, the most intelligent character on any given series is always the one who needs to Learn a Valuable Lesson About Human Nature.

Told by whom? Should we respect this person's opinion, or might it not simply be their opinion. Honestly, I haven't seen too many of the TOS episodes. I don't remember this exchange from any of the movies.

What standards of the show? Could it be that you're reading into it what's not there? The only Star Trek standards I'm aware of are that all peoples (aliens included) are equal, learning and exploration are good, and conflict is to be avoided if possible. All intelligences should live peaceably together. Live and let live, and learn.


No. I'm saying that Star Trek is a show for geeks, aimed at geeks, and has been almost since its inception. The makers know that. Why do you think they jettisoned so much of the original continuity for the new one? They knew the majority of watchers wouldn't care. They were aiming for a larger audience, because Star Trek is believed in popular culture to be the domain of the geek.

Well, you're wrong.

My mother, for one anecdotal example, watched TOS in its original run, and she's almost the antithesis of a geek.

Is Star Wars for geeks? Incidentally, she watched it in theaters in '77, too.

Are video games just for geeks?

These things appeal to geeks, they're most popular with geeks, but they're not just for geeks.

Avatar?

District 9?

Tron: Legacy?

Pshaw! Sci-fi is just for geeks!


I'm perfectly aware that any well-written character is flawed and that perfect ones are boring. The issue is what attributes are shown to be failings. And even leaving that aside, let's get back to the television issue. Specifically MythBusters. Why don't we go ahead and compare the ratings between MythBusters and, oh, Two and a Half Men. You go on. Tell me whether the intelligent show or the show with stupid people is more popular.

Going by, what? the Nielsen ratings? Forgive me, but I don't really trust them for reasons which should be obvious.

If you invest any confidence in IMDb ratings, MythBusters currently holds a 9.1 out of 10 from 9,565 votes, while Two and a Half Men currently holds 8.1 out of 10 from 2,798 votes.

However, it may be that the sort of person who watches MythBusters is more apt to vote on a show they like than a Two and a Half Men viewer.

Tinaa
2010-Dec-31, 04:01 AM
I love Star Trek and I'm not a geek. I'm cool as liquid nitrogen!

Gillianren
2010-Dec-31, 04:37 AM
Told by whom? Should we respect this person's opinion, or might it not simply be their opinion. Honestly, I haven't seen too many of the TOS episodes. I don't remember this exchange from any of the movies.

Really? McCoy says it several times.


What standards of the show? Could it be that you're reading into it what's not there? The only Star Trek standards I'm aware of are that all peoples (aliens included) are equal, learning and exploration are good, and conflict is to be avoided if possible. All intelligences should live peaceably together. Live and let live, and learn.

If I'm reading into it, it's only what has been written about it by the people involved. Or, indeed, what is directly said in the script.


Well, you're wrong.

What a reasoned assessment.


My mother, for one anecdotal example, watched TOS in its original run, and she's almost the antithesis of a geek.

Does she still watch it? Has she watched the various other series? Did she watch the movies in the theatre? How many times? You apparently don't see it, but these things do matter. They're very closely analyzed.


Is Star Wars for geeks? Incidentally, she watched it in theaters in '77, too.

I'm sure she did; a lot of people did. What I think you're failing to grasp is the concept of scale. Honestly, Star Wars is a simple little story, and I have myself argued--and can now, if you like--that it isn't even actually science fiction. Several of the characters have special powers, but most don't. I don't think I'd rank any of the characters in it very highly in intelligence. I don't intend to quote Joseph Campbell here, especially since I don't care enough to go look the direct quotes up, but the whole point is that Luke starts out as the Fool, in the figurative sense. By this I don't mean that he's stupid. I mean that he's innocent and doesn't know what's out there.


Are video games just for geeks?

Depends on the game.


These things appeal to geeks, they're most popular with geeks, but they're not just for geeks.

Have you consulted with the creators?


Avatar?

Ah, yes. Not that you responded to my previous comments on the subject. No, Avatar clearly isn't just for geeks. However, it is only science fiction in the sense that it's happening in space. There are plenty of jokes comparing Avatar with Dances With Wolves, but I rewatched the latter after having seen the former, and the jokes exist for a reason. Besides, one of the reasons I loathe the comparisons people make between it and Gone With the Wind is that I don't think anyone but, yes, geeks will care about Avatar in ten years, once it's easy for films to be that pretty.


District 9?

It did kind of end up being that way, if you look at box office and audience response.


Tron: Legacy?

Also big and shiny now. But how many not-geeks who were too young to see it in the theatre when that was new and shiny bothered?


Pshaw! Sci-fi is just for geeks!

No, sci-fi is primarily read and experienced by geeks. Those doing the marketing know that and are quite careful where, say, they advertise. They won't bother advertising District 9 on most channels because they know that most people aren't interested. They're not going to waste the ad revenue putting a commercial for Doctor Who in the middle of almost any American television. Remember that the current blasphemy that is "Sy-Fy" changed its name to distance itself from its core audience on the grounds that it wasn't just for Those People.


Going by, what? the Nielsen ratings? Forgive me, but I don't really trust them for reasons which should be obvious.

What, the fact that they're a statistically balanced sampling of the American viewing audience? The fact that they control literally billions of dollars' worth of advertising and programming? Or is it the fact that they don't say what you think they should?


If you invest any confidence in IMDb ratings, MythBusters currently holds a 9.1 out of 10 from 9,565 votes, while Two and a Half Men currently holds 8.1 out of 10 from 2,798 votes.

So, wait. You distrust the Nielsen ratings, but you're willing to trust IMDB ratings? Do you know how much analysis has gone into showing how ridiculously faulty they are? Have you taken two minutes to look at the top 250? How about this--in general, most films which make the bottom 50 appeared on Mystery Science Theater 3000, an obscure basic cable puppet show.


However, it may be that the sort of person who watches MythBusters is more apt to vote on a show they like than a Two and a Half Men viewer.

In fact yes. If you spend some time examining the ratings, it is generally the case that movies which do better in the box office are not the ones which necessarily get the largest voting blocs on IMDB. You might also try looking at some of the broken down listings. It's really basic media analysis. In both cases, a pretty substantial majority of votes are from males. Specifically in both cases males eighteen to twenty-nine. The reason IMDB ratings are such a joke is that they are very self-selecting. First, the person must be aware of the existence of IMDB. Second, they must be a registered member. Third, they must look up the movie or TV show. Fourth, they must care enough to vote. It is also true--and the algorithm in theory adjusts for this--that you will get voting specifically aimed toward getting something into or out of the Top 250. For both shows, the ratings are very heavily skewed toward a 10; the MythBusters page is showing over 63% rating it at a 10. This is strongly indicative of people whose only purpose in rating the show was to give it a high rating.

You are operating under the faulty assumption that I am arguing from a preconceived position, not one on which I've done any study. You might consider revising that assumption.

SkepticJ
2010-Dec-31, 06:34 AM
Really? McCoy says it several times.

Well, ok. I guess I either didn't notice, or forgot--it's been a number of years since I watched most of them.

McCoy also calls him a "green-blooded Vulcan". I guess the philosophy of Star Trek officially condones racism.


If I'm reading into it, it's only what has been written about it by the people involved. Or, indeed, what is directly said in the script.

What sources did you read?

Care to give the episode titles, or link to the scripts, so that I may read for myself?


Does she still watch it? Has she watched the various other series? Did she watch the movies in the theatre? How many times? You apparently don't see it, but these things do matter. They're very closely analyzed.

No, not habitually. If she caught them playing on a channel while surfing she might watch. I don't know that she actively seeks them out. I don't either, I really like Star Trek:TNG, but I don't bother to record them. I saw most of them when I was a kid.

No, I don't think she did. She hardly goes to the movies, the last time was maybe Toy Story 2.


I'm sure she did; a lot of people did. What I think you're failing to grasp is the concept of scale. Honestly, Star Wars is a simple little story, and I have myself argued--and can now, if you like--that it isn't even actually science fiction. Several of the characters have special powers, but most don't.

Yeah, and most people in comic book movies don't have superpowers, I guess that means they're not comic book movies.

Most people in fantasy movies can't do magic, guess they're not fantasy.

Star Wars isn't science fiction in the same sense as, say, 2001, but neither is V for Vendetta a comic in the same sense as some pulp from the '50s.


Ah, yes. Not that you responded to my previous comments on the subject. No, Avatar clearly isn't just for geeks. However, it is only science fiction in the sense that it's happening in space. There are plenty of jokes comparing Avatar with Dances With Wolves, but I rewatched the latter after having seen the former, and the jokes exist for a reason. Besides, one of the reasons I loathe the comparisons people make between it and Gone With the Wind is that I don't think anyone but, yes, geeks will care about Avatar in ten years, once it's easy for films to be that pretty.

I was actually about 3/4 of the way through writing a really good reply yesterday--was about an hour into it--and lost it due to a computer hiccup. I was a little POed, so didn't bother to redo it, sorry about that.

The great thing about fiction is that it can be multiple genres at the same time. Watchmen, for example, is a detective story, science fiction, delves into social commentary and philosophy . . .

Avatar most certainly is science fiction. What, exactly, about remotely piloted biological avatars, a moon-spanning sentient neural network, maglev unobtanium etc. disqualifies it? Avatar is also an action/adventure movie, about pretty, little bit of love story, retelling of FernGully . . .

Is it because it doesn't delve into the consequences of this technology to your subjective satisfaction?


No, sci-fi is primarily read and experienced by geeks. Those doing the marketing know that and are quite careful where, say, they advertise. They won't bother advertising District 9 on most channels because they know that most people aren't interested. They're not going to waste the ad revenue putting a commercial for Doctor Who in the middle of almost any American television. Remember that the current blasphemy that is "Sy-Fy" changed its name to distance itself from its core audience on the grounds that it wasn't just for Those People.

Oh, so Close Encounters of the Third Kind was mostly watched by geeks? Mighty high grossing film that was. Oh, but I'm sure you'll try to find some way to say its not a Real Science Fiction movie.

E.T.?

Jurassic Park?

Alien, and Aliens?

Predator?

The Terminator, and its better, much higher grossing sequel?

True, most of these movies aren't literary science fiction material, but I'm going to bang my head against a convenient hard surface if you try to claim they're not science fiction.


What, the fact that they're a statistically balanced sampling of the American viewing audience? The fact that they control literally billions of dollars' worth of advertising and programming? Or is it the fact that they don't say what you think they should?

No, more along the lines of sample size, and other problems (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nielsen_ratings#Criticism_of_ratings_systems)

I don't really care how much they control. Just because lots of people put their confidence in them doesn't mean I should.


So, wait. You distrust the Nielsen ratings, but you're willing to trust IMDB ratings? Do you know how much analysis has gone into showing how ridiculously faulty they are? Have you taken two minutes to look at the top 250?

I trust them more than the Nielsen ratings, yes. That's not really saying much, though, since I trust the Nielsen none.

Sure. All of them are good movies. I'm sure your favorite movies from the 1930s that ten people have seen are underrepresented. Of course it's not going to give a list of the best movies ever, in perfect ranked order, but can you give me a better solution than broad democratic voting? We're not dealing with objective truths, here. Once you get beyond the technical aspects of the art (are the scenes composed well, etc.), it's all subjective. I don't like raw tomatoes, but I love steamed broccoli, especially with cheese on top; am I wrong?


The reason IMDB ratings are such a joke is that they are very self-selecting. First, the person must be aware of the existence of IMDB. Second, they must be a registered member. Third, they must look up the movie or TV show. Fourth, they must care enough to vote.

All problems the Nielsen system is above.

Gillianren
2010-Dec-31, 07:14 PM
Well, ok. I guess I either didn't notice, or forgot--it's been a number of years since I watched most of them.

So have I, and it's on the list of reasons for that. I got tired of a show whose philosophies were so noble violating them all the time.


McCoy also calls him a "green-blooded Vulcan". I guess the philosophy of Star Trek officially condones racism.

Turns out the future is still better for white human males than much of anyone else, at least in the parts they show.


What sources did you read?

Well, for starters, The Making of Star Trek, by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry.


Care to give the episode titles, or link to the scripts, so that I may read for myself?

Why? You ignore anything I present to you as evidence anyway with blustering about how I'm just throwing out what I don't like.


No, not habitually. If she caught them playing on a channel while surfing she might watch. I don't know that she actively seeks them out. I don't either, I really like Star Trek:TNG, but I don't bother to record them. I saw most of them when I was a kid.

What demographic do you think is generally accepted as being the one who does seek it out? By advertisers, for example? Or by those who sell DVDs?


No, I don't think she did. She hardly goes to the movies, the last time was maybe Toy Story 2.

No offense, but why should I then care what movies she has and hasn't seen? Not only that, but one of the ways Star Wars made as much money as it did was that it had a lot of repeat viewing. This is usually the case in movies which make a lot of money; a lot of people see it more than once. I myself saw The Dark Knight in the theatre twice. They don't rely on the casual movie-goer and never have. They market to the audience they think will go see it over and over again, not someone who hasn't gone to the movies at all in years. Why waste the advertising money?


Yeah, and most people in comic book movies don't have superpowers, I guess that means they're not comic book movies.

Oh. Oh, you really are cutting out a lot of what I say, aren't you? Okay, it's true; most people in comic book movies don't have superpowers. Even in superhero movies, which I assume is what you meant. (Not all of the former are the latter, after all.) However, since that wasn't the point I was trying to make, whatever. The point I was trying to make was in the parts you cut.


Most people in fantasy movies can't do magic, guess they're not fantasy.

Fantasy does not actually rely on magic per se.


Star Wars isn't science fiction in the same sense as, say, 2001, but neither is V for Vendetta a comic in the same sense as some pulp from the '50s.

No; it's a graphic novel and acknowledged to be an entirely different genre.


I was actually about 3/4 of the way through writing a really good reply yesterday--was about an hour into it--and lost it due to a computer hiccup. I was a little POed, so didn't bother to redo it, sorry about that.

Wow. You take a lot longer to write than I do, and I respond to every line of yours.


The great thing about fiction is that it can be multiple genres at the same time. Watchmen, for example, is a detective story, science fiction, delves into social commentary and philosophy . . .

Certainly true. Except the "delves" part, because what it actually is is satire. It has elements of a detective story and hints of science fiction, and it owes a lot of its backstory, yes, to the pulps, but it has a lot more to do with Gulliver's Travels than does the movie of Gulliver's Travels which just came out.


Avatar most certainly is science fiction. What, exactly, about remotely piloted biological avatars, a moon-spanning sentient neural network, maglev unobtanium etc. disqualifies it? Avatar is also an action/adventure movie, about pretty, little bit of love story, retelling of FernGully . . .

Will you please do me the favour of knowing a little bit about media analysis and so forth before making pronouncements? It is generally considered that science fiction should at least in part be about the technology, even if it's soft science fiction, and this isn't. Ye Gods, one of the "scientists" smokes around the equipment and no one says anything! And, no, it isn't much of a retelling of Fern Gully; I've never understood how people can actually watch both movies and come to that conclusion. Whereas it is in places shot-for-shot Dances With Wolves. And while it can have aspects of multiple genres, that doesn't mean you can't know where to stick it on a shelf. If I were to waste the money to buy it, yes, I would put it in science fiction. Yes, I have Star Wars there, too. However, that is because we think of the space elements first, even though Blade Runner delves more into its science. In Avatar, you can replace it with magic and probably should have done. In Star Wars, until the regrettable retcon, the Force was magic.


Is it because it doesn't delve into the consequences of this technology to your subjective satisfaction?

At all.


Oh, so Close Encounters of the Third Kind was mostly watched by geeks? Mighty high grossing film that was. Oh, but I'm sure you'll try to find some way to say its not a Real Science Fiction movie.

Oh, it's a science fiction movie. But since its release, the answer is yes. Yes, it is. I don't think you understand the idea of single viewers versus repeat viewers, which drives a lot of business. It's why so many dreadful Disney sequels are released direct-to-DVD. They know that the parents of seven-year-old girls will buy anything they put out with a princess or Tinkerbell on it, but they know the parents aren't interested in going to the theatre for it. They can release a ton of DVDs cheaper than putting it out in the theatre, among other reasons because the advertising is so much cheaper. They barely have to advertise at all for a DVD release, because it doesn't have to make anywhere near as much to turn a profit. Similarly, science fiction movies mostly get advertised for science fiction fans, which the industry assumes, yes, to be geeks. A film like Close Encounters can get trotted out as a prestige film, but the people who will buy it are mostly science fiction fans and movie buffs, neither of which are as wide as the audience which saw it once in the theatre thirty years ago.


E.T.?

The same arguments apply, and let me point something else out, here. You're only listing successful ones and ones you apparently think were successful. Scott Pilgrim grossed less than fifty million dollars. Even District 9 grossed more than four times that. How many science fiction movies are hugely popular in a single demographic and sink without a trace from the mainstream consciousness? Ninety-nine movies made more money in 2005 than Serenity, which grossed even less than Scott Pilgrim. Unjust of me to keep harping on grosses? Not in this context, no. How much a movie makes is obviously directly connected to how popular it was and how much of a cultural impact it made. Let's take the case of Snakes on a Plane. The makers had not had great hopes of it and mostly released it theatrically because it had a cult following on the internet before it even came out. However, the cult following existed because one character said one line, and the people who thought it was hilarious on the internet turned out to be unwilling to pay the money to see it in the theatre. It out-grossed Scott Pilgrim, and it probably made more of its money back, too, but still.


Jurassic Park?

Do you understand why I exempt movies made up of that many action sequences from being science fiction? Don't argue the point. Just answer if you know why I do it.


Alien, and Aliens?

I'm with Stephen King; the first one is horror. It just happens to be horror on a spaceship. Horror has a broader audience. The second one is an action movie. The closer they got to science fiction, the less interested the audience got. Of course, the films got progressively worse, too.


Predator?

Action movie.


The Terminator, and its better, much higher grossing sequel?

Action movie.


True, most of these movies aren't literary science fiction material, but I'm going to bang my head against a convenient hard surface if you try to claim they're not science fiction.

Have hard surface handy. They put a science fiction frame around a movie of an entirely different genre.


No, more along the lines of sample size, and other problems (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nielsen_ratings#Criticism_of_ratings_systems)

There are some legitimate complaints there. However, I don't think there are enough of them to throw out the Nielsens entirely. They need to up the sample size and change how they're selected some. Much more easily fixable than IMDB.


I don't really care how much they control. Just because lots of people put their confidence in them doesn't mean I should.

Do you make your living based on what they say? Do you understand how they control the media, advertising, and even the news?


I trust them more than the Nielsen ratings, yes. That's not really saying much, though, since I trust the Nielsen none.

Well, you have that precisely backwards. If you're going to trust one very little and the other not at all, trust IMDB not at all.


Sure. All of them are good movies. I'm sure your favorite movies from the 1930s that ten people have seen are underrepresented. Of course it's not going to give a list of the best movies ever, in perfect ranked order, but can you give me a better solution than broad democratic voting? We're not dealing with objective truths, here. Once you get beyond the technical aspects of the art (are the scenes composed well, etc.), it's all subjective. I don't like raw tomatoes, but I love steamed broccoli, especially with cheese on top; am I wrong?

Oh, my. I don't think you really looked at all. As it happens, I don't think they're all good movies, but it's not my opinion on the subject which matters in this instance. I don't like any number of classic films. It isn't the nature of opinion that's the problem. I'm not going to do a current count, but the last time I did, an easy majority of the films had come out within my own lifetime. That's less than a third of the history of film. Almost without fail, those older movies which do make it onto the Top 250 do so with fewer votes than the newer movies. (An obvious exception is the new True Grit, which has also only been out about two weeks.) It's a well-established fact; big, splashy movies overpopulate the Top 250 even after people forget them and wouldn't put them on their personal Top 250 anymore because there's too much inertia. It's going to be a lot easier for Sherlock, Jr. (7297 votes) to fall back off the list than the 2009 Star Trek (143,084 votes).

I've often proposed that a better system would include a minimum length of time from the release of the movie to the placement in the Top 250. Indeed, I can come up with about twenty different improvements to what even casual film buffs acknowledge is one of the worst rating systems on the internet.


All problems the Nielsen system is above.

Well, those are very different and much bigger problems, the ones with IMDB. At least looking at the networks, everyone has the same chance of seeing any given channel. Nobody has to go out of their way to do so. I have a movie on my Netflix queue which isn't out on DVD and is available streaming until tomorrow. The odds of it having anything approaching a balanced rating on IMDB are precisely zero. It will only be rated by people who have somehow managed to hear of it and have taken the time to seek it out. There are also people on IMDB who rate movies they haven't actually seen because they think they know what it's like. Or because there's something they don't like about it--an actor or director they don't like, for example. I know Twilight is a dreadful movie, because it's badly acted and based on a dreadful book. I haven't rated it, because I haven't seen it. It is at least theoretically possible that I am wrong. On the other hand, the Twilight demographic is demonstrably underrepresented on IMDB. 30,000 more males than females have rated it, despite its appeal being to teenage girls. What's more, even though the franchise is incredibly successful--the third movie grossed more than $300,000,000 domestic this year--even the people in its planned demographic didn't rate it very well.

Why? Because very few people both watch that movie and go on that website. Most of those who do watch the movie ironically or because their arms are twisted by someone they care about. Nielsen doesn't rate whether people like or dislike it, just whether they watch it. It's possible millions of people are watching American Idol or whatever other reality show is big right now (don't know; don't care) ironically. I'd say it's certain that at least a substantial minority are. However, Nielsen doesn't have to care. It and IMDB are comparing apples and oranges. Do you not understand that, either?

nightmarepatrol
2010-Dec-31, 09:46 PM
Actually the issues outlined in the wikipedia article are not all entirely true. in 2006 Nielsen was in the process of switching to a new metered system. At that time they had two separate systems with about 25k on each system. They have been running entirely on the new metering system since 2008 and have over 50000 homes in sample. In 2011 Nielsen will be tracking online viewing of online services from video viewing (such as hulu, including starts, stops and pauses) web TV, page views as well as ad displays versus ad clicks. This is all contingent upon the web site provider inserting the appropriate javascript into the page, state, etc as needed. This will also eventually result in real time data for their customer base. The actual demographics are the key selling point of what Nielsen does. Nobody else really has the infrastructure and demographic data they have to crunch stats on this level of granularity. The system is not perfect though. As new technology comes into play, especially mobile the metering is exceedingly difficult as you might imagine especially some Nielsen cannot interfere with the customers normal habits in any way to capture the data.

The Nielsen Media Research name was dropped in 2008 in favor being called The Nielsen Company. Wikipedia is a great point of reference but... it too has some problems with accurate reporting.

Just though I'd clear up a few things about that.

Gillianren
2011-Jan-01, 01:54 AM
Thank you. That was most enlightening. I've been aware for some time in the various flaws in the Nielsen system, but I've also been aware for some time that they recognized and were working on the problem.

nightmarepatrol
2011-Jan-01, 03:59 AM
It's not so much flaws in the reporting as challenges in the actual collecting of data that's the problem. Broadcast TV is easy, the rest of it varies. Collecting data passively in a bar... sure it's easy until your in a sports bar. How do you do that? MPG4 screwed up things as well as it strips out the encoding signal embedded in the original signal and it can't be monitored. It's someone once said "It's really easy until you have to do it yourself." Nielsen sells "audience" and there's no where else you can go to find out what the typical college educated female of (pick you ethnicity) age 35 watches on Thursday night. The company itself generated roughly 6TB of data on a slow day. Newscorp started its own version of a ratings system which was disbanded rather quickly a number of years ago, mainly because of cost and unavailability of people that actually understood the ratings. It turned out to be rather difficult to pluck people off the street and teach them a business they knew nothing about. They made and point though and evidently someone was listening.

Gillianren
2011-Jan-01, 05:07 AM
Ha. This college-educated white female aged 34 watches movies. But yes, it is a difficult thing to track. I'd also say that the problem of tracking, say, who's watching what in a bar is the one that not everyone in the bar is watching it. For some unforgivable reason, the restaurants we go to in town with TVs on always have sports playing. Often two different channels. I suppose it's so there's something you can watch and don't need to listen to, but in the bar at Red Robin, who's paying that much attention at all? And which television do you assume we're watching?

SkepticJ
2011-Jan-01, 10:58 PM
Turns out the future is still better for white human males than much of anyone else, at least in the parts they show.

Yeah, Dr. Crusher, all the women admirals that are over Capt. Picard in various episodes, Geordi La Forge, Worf, Sulu, Capt. Janeway*, they're all token diversity? Amiright?


Why? You ignore anything I present to you as evidence anyway with blustering about how I'm just throwing out what I don't like.

Why provide evidence to support a claim? Why indeed.

Let the record show you are unwilling to provide evidence for a claim when honestly asked to do so. I'm the sort of person who actually changes his mind when I see that I'm wrong.


What demographic do you think is generally accepted as being the one who does seek it out? By advertisers, for example? Or by those who sell DVDs?

I don't know, and don't really care. Lots of things are generally accepted to be true--doesn't make them so. How many people base their very worldviews on the existence of entities and locations which probably don't exist?


Oh. Oh, you really are cutting out a lot of what I say, aren't you? Okay, it's true; most people in comic book movies don't have superpowers. Even in superhero movies, which I assume is what you meant. (Not all of the former are the latter, after all.) However, since that wasn't the point I was trying to make, whatever. The point I was trying to make was in the parts you cut.

Then please elucidate your point, don't leave me guessing.

Is it that if you change the setting of Star Wars the basic story formula would still work? If so, yes, that is very true. It could be set in ancient China (with or without the Jedi superpowers), or wherever else you cared to.

The basic story of The War of the Worlds (the novel) could also work if you cared to change the setting. Replace England for some technologically less advanced place, and The Martians with the British Empire. Indeed, that's really what The War of the Worlds was about, and indictment of colonialism.

Does that make it any less science fiction? No, no it does not.

Virtually any basic story could be told in another setting. Frankenstein is just a tale with a scientific golum. Replace the electricity with Jewish mysticism and you've got the same story.


Fantasy does not actually rely on magic per se.

*Guffaw*


No; it's a graphic novel and acknowledged to be an entirely different genre.

Do you mean medium? Because Watchmen and V for Vendetta are different genres, but both are graphic novels.


Wow. You take a lot longer to write than I do, and I respond to every line of yours.

I was writing a particularly long post, hence why I was POed at its loss.

But if making veiled insults floats your boat, go on ahead.


Certainly true. Except the "delves" part, because what it actually is is satire. It has elements of a detective story and hints of science fiction, and it owes a lot of its backstory, yes, to the pulps, but it has a lot more to do with Gulliver's Travels than does the movie of Gulliver's Travels which just came out.

It can't be both? I think it works as a straight tale, and as a deconstruction* of comic books.




Will you please do me the favour of knowing a little bit about media analysis and so forth before making pronouncements? It is generally considered that science fiction should at least in part be about the technology, even if it's soft science fiction, and this isn't. Ye Gods, one of the "scientists" smokes around the equipment and no one says anything!

Ok, now your objections are just getting ridiculous. Goodness, Samuel L. Jackson smokes around the equipment in Jurassic Park, won't he think of the delicate technology?!

Who says 22nd Century technology would even be vulnerable to cigarette smoke, anyway? It's not a research lab filled with delicate instruments, they're tools deployed in the field on an alien moon. They're going to be durable. Oh noes, not some smoke! Hurry, shield the equipment!


And, no, it isn't much of a retelling of Fern Gully; I've never understood how people can actually watch both movies and come to that conclusion. Whereas it is in places shot-for-shot Dances With Wolves.

It's not a straight retelling, no, but when the native girl shows up and all the glowing crap happens, I died a little inside.


And while it can have aspects of multiple genres, that doesn't mean you can't know where to stick it on a shelf. If I were to waste the money to buy it, yes, I would put it in science fiction. Yes, I have Star Wars there, too. However, that is because we think of the space elements first, even though Blade Runner delves more into its science.

So, the space elements don't make it science fiction, but . . . they do?

Really though, why do you have trouble admitting they're all science fiction? It's a gradient, Gillian. On one end you have things like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ghost in the Shell, and on the other you have The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Star Wars, where it blends with fantasy.


At all.

So, if you were in charge, what effects would have been explored in the movie?


Oh, it's a science fiction movie.

An intelligent science fiction movie? Which was a mega hit in its day? Follow the logic train.


The same arguments apply, and let me point something else out, here. You're only listing successful ones and ones you apparently think were successful. Scott Pilgrim grossed less than fifty million dollars. Even District 9 grossed more than four times that. How many science fiction movies are hugely popular in a single demographic and sink without a trace from the mainstream consciousness?

How many science fiction movies are even good?


Ninety-nine movies made more money in 2005 than Serenity, which grossed even less than Scott Pilgrim

Marketing fault? The movie title doesn't exactly convey the awesome. Goodness knows its been a hit on DVD.


Do you understand why I exempt movies made up of that many action sequences from being science fiction? Don't argue the point. Just answer if you know why I do it.

Because you think science fiction should be more cerebral?


I'm with Stephen King; the first one is horror. It just happens to be horror on a spaceship. Horror has a broader audience. The second one is an action movie. The closer they got to science fiction, the less interested the audience got.

It's both. If it's just a horror movie, why even bother making it as science-y as it is? Why even include Ash's nerding out about the creature? Or even making him a robot? Or the techy landing sequence, the bits with Mother, talking about LV-426's atmosphere and crust, using a real star system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeta_Reticuli) as its location etc.

You're under the false impression that science fiction is a Platonic ideal.




Action movie.

Action movie.

Have hard surface handy. They put a science fiction frame around a movie of an entirely different genre.

Why even do that if only a geek minority truly enjoys science fiction? Just make it some dude who gets his kicks out of hunting other people, à la The Most Dangerous Game.

Same for The Terminator, come up with some other non-SF scenario that gives you basically the same thing.


*Would that we could forget about Voyager.

*Good lord, I'm writing like a postmodernist literary critic. The end is nigh!

Van Rijn
2011-Jan-02, 02:05 AM
Ah, yes. Not that you responded to my previous comments on the subject. No, Avatar clearly isn't just for geeks. However, it is only science fiction in the sense that it's happening in space.


I strongly disagree. I do agree that Star Wars is essentially a fantasy story, but there is a lot of SF background to Avatar. One of the reasons I liked it is because it was obvious they had technical advisers and actually listened to them occasionally (that's a rare thing in Hollywood movies). This would not be the same story without the science fiction elements.

Gillianren
2011-Jan-02, 05:24 AM
Yeah, Dr. Crusher, all the women admirals that are over Capt. Picard in various episodes, Geordi La Forge, Worf, Sulu, Capt. Janeway*, they're all token diversity? Amiright?

I was at a Star Trek convention shortly before the release of DS9 and I heard the official information about Sisko. (Left off your list.) And you know what? Yes. Yes, he was. It was quite clear in context that it was a sop to the complaints. I've had people cite Uhura to me as an example of positive female portrayals on Star Trek, and it doesn't wash. There's a reason for the Sigourney Weaver character in Galaxy Quest. There's a reason there's never been anyone between TOS and Enterprise (poor Scott Bakula) who held her job. At least three people on the bridge were capable of doing it. There was no need to have someone taking up the chair most of the time. Even on the episodes where what she did was important to the plot, she wasn't.

Let me go through that list again, in fact. There are three major recurring female characters in Original Series. Uhura, I've explained my problems with. Then there's Yeoman Rand, mostly onscreen to bring Kirk coffee, and Nurse Chapel. Nurse Chapel, indeed, was part of the joke about the emotional failings of Spock as well as just being a joke in her own right. She was mooning over a man who wouldn't display emotions, and it was funny, because it was a waste for her and stupid on his part.

Next Generation. Here is one I fully concede. Tasha Yar as security officer would have been an actual tough woman. The reason they went to Worf instead was that Denise Crosby wanted to leave the show, not for any reason within the show. (Why she was willing to be cast in the show and then left in the middle of the first season, I cannot say.) However, both the remaining major female Star Fleet characters, and the one who was major but didn't work for Star Fleet, were left in nurturing roles. They rarely cared a plot on their own; the white human males did most of that. All three women there were left to take care of people all the time. (In the case of Troi, not very well.) The one time Troi actually had to run the bridge in order to keep her rank, which was a cheap plot device anyway, it was a joke and they only let her do it at a time when she couldn't hurt anything.

Deep Space 9 I consider the closest to a really diverse Star Trek to date. It did have Sisko, and Kira Nerys was essentially the only really strong female character without caveats in the whole series, though of course she wimped out whenever she fell in love. Jadzia Dax, you ask? A very large amount of focus on "she used to be a man," also played for humour half the time. But there are also several male aliens with important roles, and even Lwaxana Troi gets an episode where she isn't a laughingstock.

Voyager . . . . I must confess I was Star Trek'd out by Voyager and mostly only watched it with a college friend very late at night to make fun of it. However, Janeway was initially, in the pilot, trying to get home to her dogs and either was getting back to her significant other or broke up with him before it began; I don't remember which. But there's Seven of Nine in her bunny suit. The second-in-command isn't white, but he's full of mysticism over science. Frankly, I find all the characters unpleasant, which is why I don't really remember any of the problems I had with them very well. I haven't watched the show in ten years. As for Enterprise . . . let's pretend it never happened.


Why provide evidence to support a claim? Why indeed.

Well, let's see. On several occasions, I have given you lengthy, detailed analysis to explain a point. Containing numbers, even. And you don't even actually respond to them. You delete them. I cite sources, and you delete that. So yes. Why?


Let the record show you are unwilling to provide evidence for a claim when honestly asked to do so. I'm the sort of person who actually changes his mind when I see that I'm wrong.

I don't see evidence of that here.


I don't know, and don't really care. Lots of things are generally accepted to be true--doesn't make them so. How many people base their very worldviews on the existence of entities and locations which probably don't exist?

I think you're missing a significant difference, and I rather think you're doing it on purpose.


Then please elucidate your point, don't leave me guessing.

Again? Okay. Star Wars isn't science fiction not because not everyone has access to the Force but because it follows the traditional mythos of essentially all legends. I mean, yes, one of Lucas's influences was the old Flash Gordon serials; everyone knows that. However, everyone also knows the strong influence of Joseph Campbell. Star Wars is about myth, not science. The science is there because they need an explanation as to how they get from place to place and that there's a Death Star, but that's not what the story is about. As I said in the post you clipped, it's about the classic Hero's Journey. Setting is immaterial.


Is it that if you change the setting of Star Wars the basic story formula would still work? If so, yes, that is very true. It could be set in ancient China (with or without the Jedi superpowers), or wherever else you cared to.

It could, yes, and has been. Over and over again. For thousands of years.


The basic story of The War of the Worlds (the novel) could also work if you cared to change the setting. Replace England for some technologically less advanced place, and The Martians with the British Empire. Indeed, that's really what The War of the Worlds was about, and indictment of colonialism.

Yes. Satire. However, it would be a much more different story without the aliens than Star Wars would without the spaceships.


Does that make it any less science fiction? No, no it does not.

That's because you're not seeing the differences.


Virtually any basic story could be told in another setting. Frankenstein is just a tale with a scientific golum. Replace the electricity with Jewish mysticism and you've got the same story.

Certainly true, which is why the subtitle was The Modern Prometheus.


*Guffaw*

What a reasoned argument!


Do you mean medium? Because Watchmen and V for Vendetta are different genres, but both are graphic novels.

No, the pulps and Watchmen are the same medium, but they're different genres. In fact, putting all pulp comics in one category shows that you don't know much about pulp comics. Watchmen owes to the tradition of the pulp superhero comics, hence the pirate bits--if there are real superheroes, what fills in that cultural gap?--but it doesn't, for example, owe much to EC. Or the Western comics. Or the romance comics.


I was writing a particularly long post, hence why I was POed at its loss.

But if making veiled insults floats your boat, go on ahead.

No veiled insult intended. I'd just forgotten that I write faster than most people.


It can't be both? I think it works as a straight tale, and as a deconstruction* of comic books.

It's actually not intended as either, but you can certainly take it both ways.


Ok, now your objections are just getting ridiculous. Goodness, Samuel L. Jackson smokes around the equipment in Jurassic Park, won't he think of the delicate technology?!

My point with it was that it was an obvious failing in the movie which threw me out for just a minute. And, yes, it is different when it's a smoker around modern PCs, but even if it weren't, that's hardly the only scientific failing with Jurassic Park. Which is an action movie.


Who says 22nd Century technology would even be vulnerable to cigarette smoke, anyway? It's not a research lab filled with delicate instruments, they're tools deployed in the field on an alien moon. They're going to be durable. Oh noes, not some smoke! Hurry, shield the equipment!

Because I know the kind of chemicals in cigarette smoke? Because actually intentionally carrying fire around in a base far from any real support is kind of stupid? And you might be surprised to know that, historically, the first equipment to go up is about as flimsy as they can manage and still have it work. They have to.


It's not a straight retelling, no, but when the native girl shows up and all the glowing crap happens, I died a little inside.

I started doing that long before. When I kept waiting for the Sioux.


So, the space elements don't make it science fiction, but . . . they do?

They are considered to by popular culture, and were I to organize my shelves by genre (I don't, usually), I would have to put them there if I wanted anyone to find them.


Really though, why do you have trouble admitting they're all science fiction? It's a gradient, Gillian. On one end you have things like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ghost in the Shell, and on the other you have The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Star Wars, where it blends with fantasy.

Hitchhiker's is far closer to science fiction that Star Wars. Honestly, I'd say in many ways it's closer than 2001, which is about forty percent science fiction and about sixty mysticism.


So, if you were in charge, what effects would have been explored in the movie?

Of Avatar? Well, there's the prospect of what being able to shift consciousness into a different organism might mean about consciousness. (Incidentally, I was also deeply irritated by the prospect of "They're precisely detailed to match a specific genetic profile. Oh, you're twins? Close enough! And why bother with training?") I didn't want to watch half an hour of him learning to live with the tribe. Saw that when Kevin Costner did it. When they referred to the stuff as "unobtanium," I literally started laughing out loud in the theatre. It was just so flimsy. Framework.


An intelligent science fiction movie? Which was a mega hit in its day? Follow the logic train.

In its day.


How many science fiction movies are even good?

Okay, let's try this from another direction. How many movies are even good? It might interest you to know that the first fantasy film to win Best Picture at the Oscars was Lord of the Rings. No science fiction film has won yet. To be sure, there are no science fiction films really even nominated until the '70s, but what does that say? I am not, note, citing the Academy as anything near foolproof, and if you want evidence of that, get me started on 1941. (Year, not movie.) Or, come to that, Star Wars over Annie Hall. Of major releases, what fraction are really science fiction? Of those releases, what percentage make money? Does this compare to "mainstream" movies? It does not. Frankly, it doesn't much for romantic comedies, either.


Marketing fault? The movie title doesn't exactly convey the awesome. Goodness knows its been a hit on DVD.

Well, let's consider numbers. Eleven million dollars? Not exactly breakout, no. It's more than a third of the sales for the most recent Snow Buddies movie, but not all that much more.


Because you think science fiction should be more cerebral?

No. I have no problem with flaky science fiction; as it happens, I love Galaxy Quest. No, that's not the issue at all. The thing is, I know a great deal more about marketing and lit crit than you obviously do, and both of those come into play here. What I don't think you understand is the importance of story focus. When we go see Iron Man 2--not only did I see it, I own it, adding to the over hundred million more dollars it made on DVD than Scott Pilgrim--are we actually going to see the details of engineering? We are not. They only come into play if they are plot devices in some other way. The intention of Iron Man is to show Tony Stark trashing bozos. The point of Jurassic Park is to show dinosaurs on the rampage. We give Ian Malcolm a few token monologues, and then he's not actually killed by a dinosaur. In action movies, the draw is not the story. Now, they may still have very good stories. I can name some that do, if you like. But last year's Sherlock Holmes was a grave disappointment to a lot of fans of the source material because it brought back a lot of the action stuff they'd forgotten was canon. Are the original stories action stories? No. The focus there was the investigation. Was the Guy Ritchie one a detective story? No. The focus was on trashing bozos and blowing things up.

I'm leaving off here, because my post is too long.

Gillianren
2011-Jan-02, 05:25 AM
It's both. If it's just a horror movie, why even bother making it as science-y as it is? Why even include Ash's nerding out about the creature? Or even making him a robot? Or the techy landing sequence, the bits with Mother, talking about LV-426's atmosphere and crust, using a real star system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeta_Reticuli) as its location etc.

Because it's a setting that doesn't get used very often which scares people. People are afraid of the emptiness of space. Remember that the tagline for the original was, "In space, no one can hear you scream." What does that indicate to you about original intentions?


You're under the false impression that science fiction is a Platonic ideal.

Oh, no; I do understand the sliding spectrum. As it happens, I don't separate my books (which I do sort by genre, the easier to fit them on shelves) into science fiction and fantasy separately. This is in part because that would require splitting up Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (science fiction) and Long Dark Teatime of the Soul (fantasy). However, there is such thing as author intention. There is such thing as weighing motifs and tropes and finding out which category something fits better. Indeed, my argument is based on the idea that something can have science fiction trappings--even legitimate ones--but still not actually truly be science fiction.


Why even do that if only a geek minority truly enjoys science fiction? Just make it some dude who gets his kicks out of hunting other people, à la The Most Dangerous Game.

Because it's been done. Because exploring new aspects of an old genre can bring new life to it. Because the trappings can bring in an additional audience, ones who think, "Spaceship! It must be science fiction!" You might try reading how disappointed they are a lot of the time.


Same for The Terminator, come up with some other non-SF scenario that gives you basically the same thing.

You must then come up with some reason for it to be implacable. "It's a machine" solves everything, just as "it's magic" solves all the problems in a lot of other stories. Once you've established your framework (no matter how often you violate it), you can brush off any arguments with "it's a machine. It's programmed to do [ridiculous thing here]."


*Would that we could forget about Voyager.

Better Voyager than Enterprise.


*Good lord, I'm writing like a postmodernist literary critic. The end is nigh!

Yeah, it's not like it's totally appropriate to the conversation at hand or anything.


I strongly disagree. I do agree that Star Wars is essentially a fantasy story, but there is a lot of SF background to Avatar. One of the reasons I liked it is because it was obvious they had technical advisers and actually listened to them occasionally (that's a rare thing in Hollywood movies). This would not be the same story without the science fiction elements.

I assure you it was. And if you like, I can come up with a lot of places where they obviously ignored any technical advice they had.

Van Rijn
2011-Jan-02, 06:46 AM
I assure you it was.


We're going to have to disagree on that. In my opinion, there is simply no way to do the same story as Avatar without the science fiction elements. You can do part of it, but that's true of most SF.



And if you like, I can come up with a lot of places where they obviously ignored any technical advice they had.

Oh, I can point to unlikely bits as well. That's not the point. This is a rare case for a Hollywood movie where they clearly did put a lot of thought into the technical background, with some details specifically mentioned and others shown. For instance, take the issue of large flying animals. It is pointed out, on screen, that this is a low gravity world with a thick atmosphere and that the species have light/strong carbon fiber skeletons. On screen they show the flying animals with air inlets in their wings, which would help to support a high energy metabolism. In most SF movies, they wouldn't even think to justify how large alien animals could fly. They did do it here.

There were lots of things like this in the movie. The interstellar ship design wasn't just fancy FX, rather, it was based on a serious interstellar rocket concept (http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/01/spaceship-technology-in-avatar-is.html). The details of the world Pandora (low gravity, thick atmosphere moon of a gas giant), and how it looked make sense. Compare to, for instance, the recent Star Trek movie where pretty much nothing made sense.

Gillianren
2011-Jan-02, 07:01 AM
Yes, but you wouldn't know to look at how the humans move that it's a low-gravity world. The atmosphere is discussed, of course, but it kind of strikes me that they ignored their own rules when they were inconvenient. The air also seemed at least as much so they had a Big Suspenseful Moment when it appeared that what's-his-name's would run out.

I'm telling you, though, it's the same story, the same framing device, and in many cases the same shot, as Dances With Wolves.

GeorgeLeRoyTirebiter
2011-Jan-02, 07:28 AM
I trust them more than the Nielsen ratings, yes. That's not really saying much, though, since I trust the Nielsen none.

I'll note that the moment statistical survey methods were applied to measuring public opinion, people started expressing disbelief in the results and complaining about the validity of those surveys. I'm not claiming that this is the source of your criticism, but the most vocal critics were those who discovered that their opinions and tastes didn't match those of the majority. It's a recurring theme in the book The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, And The Making of A Mass Public by Sarah Elizabeth Igo (one more for the library list).


Indeed, my argument is based on the idea that something can have science fiction trappings--even legitimate ones--but still not actually truly be science fiction.

I've known people who thought that genre was determined solely by those trappings. In one case, someone on another messageboard advanced the argument that Eragon (both the book and the movie) blatantly ripped off elements from Star Wars. Another member could not be made to understand how this was possible—after all, one had spaceships while the other had dragons, so there was no way they could have anything in common.

Van Rijn
2011-Jan-02, 07:40 AM
Yes, but you wouldn't know to look at how the humans move that it's a low-gravity world.


I don't think it was mentioned in the movie, but in the background material for the movie it's said that the gravity is about 80% of Earth's, so you wouldn't get the dramatic effects you'd have for astronauts on the Moon. Also, simulating low gravity in a movie isn't easy, especially if it is more than a few short scenes.



The atmosphere is discussed, of course, but it kind of strikes me that they ignored their own rules when they were inconvenient. The air also seemed at least as much so they had a Big Suspenseful Moment when it appeared that what's-his-name's would run out.


I thought they did a pretty good job with it, but again, I'm not looking for perfection. It's far more important to me that they tried, rather than (as is usually the case for a Hollywood movie) utterly ignoring the background physics.



I'm telling you, though, it's the same story, the same framing device, and in many cases the same shot, as Dances With Wolves.

I've seen both movies. This was not Dances With Wolves.

Gillianren
2011-Jan-02, 05:59 PM
I'll note that the moment statistical survey methods were applied to measuring public opinion, people started expressing disbelief in the results and complaining about the validity of those surveys. I'm not claiming that this is the source of your criticism, but the most vocal critics were those who discovered that their opinions and tastes didn't match those of the majority. It's a recurring theme in the book The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, And The Making of A Mass Public by Sarah Elizabeth Igo (one more for the library list).

My boyfriend literally does not believe that anything he dislikes can be popular with anyone else. I think he is coming around due to the success of Twilight. Clearly, someone has to be buying enough tickets that they keep making movies.


I've known people who thought that genre was determined solely by those trappings. In one case, someone on another messageboard advanced the argument that Eragon (both the book and the movie) blatantly ripped off elements from Star Wars. Another member could not be made to understand how this was possible—after all, one had spaceships while the other had dragons, so there was no way they could have anything in common.

Naturally. I saw Eragon; it's possible the kid just read a lot of Joseph Campbell, but it's more likely he saw Star Wars. I tried reading the first book, too. Can't say how much that borrows from Star Wars, because I couldn't get very far in.


I don't think it was mentioned in the movie, but in the background material for the movie it's said that the gravity is about 80% of Earth's, so you wouldn't get the dramatic effects you'd have for astronauts on the Moon. Also, simulating low gravity in a movie isn't easy, especially if it is more than a few short scenes.

I don't think it was mentioned, no. And to me, background material only takes you so far. I'm willing to believe that they meant it as canon and had actually put the thought into developing it, but they did leave it out of the film, meaning probably 90% or better of the audience didn't know. Of course, then there's the percentage which would have actually cared, which is probably not 90% anyway. And I know simulating low gravity is difficult, but since it wasn't even mentioned, there was no way to know that was going on anyway.


I thought they did a pretty good job with it, but again, I'm not looking for perfection. It's far more important to me that they tried, rather than (as is usually the case for a Hollywood movie) utterly ignoring the background physics.

It just didn't seem to me that they tried very hard. I suppose that's my issue.


I've seen both movies. This was not Dances With Wolves.

Oh, I vehemently disagree. I've seen both movies recently, and I rewatched Dances With Wolves with an eye toward seeing if the comparisons had merit. The basic framework was bad enough. The repetition of filming was worse. Of course, it won Costner the Oscar, as I recall, so maybe Cameron thought he'd get a second one.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Jan-02, 09:08 PM
I've known people who thought that genre was determined solely by those trappings. In one case, someone on another messageboard advanced the argument that Eragon (both the book and the movie) blatantly ripped off elements from Star Wars. Another member could not be made to understand how this was possible—after all, one had spaceships while the other had dragons, so there was no way they could have anything in common.
Naturally. I saw Eragon; it's possible the kid just read a lot of Joseph Campbell, but it's more likely he saw Star Wars. I tried reading the first book, too. Can't say how much that borrows from Star Wars, because I couldn't get very far in.
I wouldn't say Eragon ripped off Star Wars either, they're both Hero's Journeys, so they're either going by Campbell or some of the older stories.

Van Rijn
2011-Jan-03, 12:35 AM
I don't think it was mentioned, no. And to me, background material only takes you so far. I'm willing to believe that they meant it as canon and had actually put the thought into developing it, but they did leave it out of the film, meaning probably 90% or better of the audience didn't know.


Why did the specific surface gravity need to be mentioned? They did mention there was low gravity, and they did show aspects related to the low gravity (for instance, the large flying animals previously discussed in thread).


And I know simulating low gravity is difficult, but since it wasn't even mentioned, there was no way to know that was going on anyway.


Without experiment, it isn't clear to me how obvious 80% gravity would be if looking at someone moving. It would probably be most obvious in extremes: If someone attempted to make a rapid turn and had a bit less traction, or they could jump a bit higher, or carry a bit more. You might notice it in other things (like the size of the ripples in a pool of water).

Anyway, it seems to me you're expecting something from this movie that's almost never seen. In Star Trek, Star Wars, Star Gate, etc. the surface gravity of an alien world is rarely mentioned, but is just assumed to be almost identical to Earth's. They did more here in that respect than most.

Gillianren
2011-Jan-03, 12:58 AM
Yes, they did. However, they screwed up in so many others that I'm loath to give them credit for it. After all, how much science fiction just takes it for granted that you can have impossible things (large, heavy flying creatures in an Earth-gravity environment) without explanation? And again, I don't remember mention of it, so it felt like just the same thing as that.

SkepticJ
2011-Jan-03, 03:29 AM
Van Rijn, it doesn't matter how many good points you make. Gillian has a degree in the humanities, so her opinion counts more than your facts.

SkepticJ
2011-Jan-03, 03:57 AM
Yes, but you wouldn't know to look at how the humans move that it's a low-gravity world. The atmosphere is discussed, of course, but it kind of strikes me that they ignored their own rules when they were inconvenient.

Examples? Other than the humanoid aliens, I can't really think of an egregious problem.

You groaned at unobtanium, but it was probably actually intended to be a joke. The science of it is actually sound if you assume it to be a room temperature superconductor, which I believe the film strongly hints that it is. Don't remember if it says in in words or not. Anyway, superconductors levitate in strong magnetic fields, and ta-da! guess what the Vortex is? That's right, a zone of extremely strong magnetic fields. That's why navigation is so tricky in the region--Pandora doesn't have GPS satellites. It shows the field-lines in computer displays of the area around the Tree of Souls. I noticed this all on my own, now who's media-savvy?


The air also seemed at least as much so they had a Big Suspenseful Moment when it appeared that what's-his-name's would run out.

Time for science! I don't think you understand what was happening there. His air wasn't running out, Pandora's air was too dense and rich in oxygen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_toxicity).

Van Rijn
2011-Jan-03, 08:20 AM
Yes, they did. However, they screwed up in so many others that I'm loath to give them credit for it.


People say I complain a lot about technical issues in SF movies, yet I can't think of many hard SF movies with as much thought given to the technical aspects, and with as few impossibilities and screw ups as Avatar. Off hand, I can think of 2001: A Space Odyssey, its sequel (2010), and Moon. I can also point out problems with each of those movies.


After all, how much science fiction just takes it for granted that you can have impossible things (large, heavy flying creatures in an Earth-gravity environment) without explanation?


In Hollywood SF movies? They constantly take impossible things for granted. Some examples for this particular issue (impossible fliers) can be seen in Star Wars prequels.

Gillianren
2011-Jan-03, 06:24 PM
People say I complain a lot about technical issues in SF movies, yet I can't think of many hard SF movies with as much thought given to the technical aspects, and with as few impossibilities and screw ups as Avatar. Off hand, I can think of 2001: A Space Odyssey, its sequel (2010), and Moon. I can also point out problems with each of those movies.

See, whereas I thought most of Avatar was handwaving. Why does this work? Because it does. How could an ecosystem like this one possibly evolve? Because it did. What are the odds the aliens would be even that close to looking human? Don't ask that question. I respect that they didn't have FTL travel, but on the other hand, the story wouldn't have worked if they had. It needed to be set on the frontier.


In Hollywood SF movies? They constantly take impossible things for granted. Some examples for this particular issue (impossible fliers) can be seen in Star Wars prequels.

Yes. That's my point. If the explanation doesn't occur onscreen, it does not, to me, make it any different from the various retcons in the Star Wars universe. (The "parsec" explanation rather springs to mind; the one I prefer isn't the official one. The one I prefer is that Han actually is wrong, and that's why Obi-Wan looks so irritated at him. It has nothing to do with Sir Alec's mask of boredom slipping for a minute.) I'm not a biologist, to be fair. My understanding, though, is that a lot of biologists scoff at large amounts of that movie. The physics may be okay, but the science is not.

danscope
2011-Jan-03, 06:26 PM
Yes Sir. In Avatar, they were using these ridiculous dual rotor aircraft . Yeah, what an interesting failure mode those things will have.
It gives new meaning to the term: Spin out !!!

Best regards,
Dan

GeorgeLeRoyTirebiter
2011-Jan-03, 09:29 PM
I wouldn't say Eragon ripped off Star Wars either, they're both Hero's Journeys, so they're either going by Campbell or some of the older stories.

The similarities go beyond both stories having been rolled up using the same set of plot-generating tables. In both, you have a princess who steals a dangerous Thing from an evil empire. She gets captured and the Thing falls into the possession of a farmhand (unaware he's the Chosen One) who dreams of adventuring abroad, but is prevented from doing so by his uncle, until the uncle is killed by soldiers looking for the Thing. A local eccentric old man reveals himself to have been an elite warrior, one of the last of an ancient sect skilled in the use of magic, who has been hiding from the empire after his sect was destroyed. The old man mentors the farmhand in the use of magic while they travel to rescue the princess. During the rescue attempt, the mentor is killed.

Paolini could have changed any of these plot points and still had a Hero's Journey, one that isn't quite as similar to Star Wars.

Van Rijn
2011-Jan-03, 10:12 PM
See, whereas I thought most of Avatar was handwaving. Why does this work? Because it does.


Why does what work?


How could an ecosystem like this one possibly evolve? Because it did. What are the odds the aliens would be even that close to looking human? Don't ask that question.


What standards are you using as a means of comparison for this movie? The humanoid alien issue applies to most SF movies and TV. In most cases, they are flat out human (to the point where they can interbreed), not just humanoid. Humanoid aliens are important to developing a story a movie audience could relate to.

Aside from the humanoid aliens, what are the great problems with the ecology they showed? (I thought they did a pretty good job, more than just throwing in whatever they felt like, which is what you usually get in Hollywood movies.)



Yes. That's my point. If the explanation doesn't occur onscreen, it does not, to me, make it any different from the various retcons in the Star Wars universe.


What "retcon" are you referring to in Avatar? I liked Avatar in part because they were unusual in how many things they did justify on screen, and had other bits that were nice background but didn't need to be explained in detail.

Gillianren
2011-Jan-03, 10:57 PM
Why does what work?

Anything, essentially. Oh, a fair amount of the military technology is just obvious extrapolation from what we have now. Helicopters specially designed for the planet don't worry me. The engineering on that is pretty easy. But honestly, the entire avatar program which was the story bothered me. It didn't make sense to me. I couldn't see how it would work. The word bothered me, too, because of the sociological implications. We've lessened the impact of the word, but given the plot we were working with . . . .


What standards are you using as a means of comparison for this movie? The humanoid alien issue applies to most SF movies and TV. In most cases, they are flat out human (to the point where they can interbreed), not just humanoid. Humanoid aliens are important to developing a story a movie audience could relate to.

Yes. I know all that. Somewhere, I have a Star Trek book wherein Ro Laren refers to herself and Worf as the "token bumpy-foreheads" or some such, because it is, after all, one of the preferred changes for the series. That and ears. Just enough change to make them satisfyingly alien but not enough to make the audience uncomfortable. Also a lot cheaper, though of course that's not something Cameron worried about or had to. And they were obviously close enough so that the scientists were able to create hybrids; that's a major plot point, after all. No one even expressed surprise that it was possible. My reading indicates that we have every reason to believe that, if alien life exists, it will probably be carbon-based. We don't have any reason to believe they use the same protein configuration as we do, much less DNA that we can splice into. But without that, the avatar program simply doesn't work.


Aside from the humanoid aliens, what are the great problems with the ecology they showed? (I thought they did a pretty good job, more than just throwing in whatever they felt like, which is what you usually get in Hollywood movies.)

Let's leave aside the fact that the Na'vi don't much resemble the rest of the ecosystem in design; we've agreed that's for audience identification purposes. We want their faces to look mostly like ours. And Cameron wanted the women to have . . . secondary sexual characteristics, even though he agrees it doesn't make sense. But the probe thingies rather spring to mind as something which bothered me while watching the movie. Various of the species are specifically shown to "plug in" to the Na'vi and become essentially symbiotes. How does that even evolve? And what about predator-prey ratio? Everything we see in What's-His-Name's first night trapped in his avatar is trying to eat him. Yes, it turns out to be at least in part his own stupid fault, and he needs the Beautiful Native Girl to show him the Ways of Her People before he can Save Them From the Foreign Aggressor. But how many prey animals do we see?


What "retcon" are you referring to in Avatar? I liked Avatar in part because they were unusual in how many things they did justify on screen, and had other bits that were nice background but didn't need to be explained in detail.

The low gravity. The fact is, I have no doubt that Cameron knew he wanted flying creatures and decided that, if he was going to make people think he was doing serious science, he needed an explanation for it. I acknowledge that most of the audience didn't care. The audience doesn't, in general. You try to point out errors in popular entertainment, and you're told you're over-thinking it. You know that as well as I do, having experienced it yourself. We're usually on the same side about it, come to that! So he got his advisors to come up with an explanation they could put in the material that people only got if they went looking for it so he could say, "Oh, no, we explained that!" And that keeps the people who do care from noticing how much still was screwed up, because he explained away some of the problems.

kamaz
2011-Jan-04, 12:17 AM
Humanoid aliens are important to developing a story a movie audience could relate to.


There are precisely two reasons why sci-fi uses humanoid aliens. The first one is cost. To understand the second one, imagine Avatar's reception if Pandora's climate was similar to that of Dune, locals wore cloths on their heads and unobtanium had a black liquid form.

kamaz
2011-Jan-04, 12:21 AM
The science of it is actually sound if you assume it to be a room temperature superconductor, which I believe the film strongly hints that it is.

I read Cameron's draft screenplay a few years before the film was shot -- it explicitly mentioned a room temperature superconductor. I actually remember it because it was a pretty good piece of sci-fi writing.

kamaz
2011-Jan-04, 12:37 AM
How does that even evolve?

Since everything alive plugs into The Matrix, it's possible that it has evolved from the primordial soup, along with everything else already connected.


And what about predator-prey ratio?

If everything alive plugs into The Matrix, and The Matrix is shown to be coordination fighting off a foreign infestation (humans), then The Matrix also does resource allocation. In other words, centrally planned economy ecosystem.

SkepticJ
2011-Jan-04, 02:43 AM
And what about predator-prey ratio? Everything we see in What's-His-Name's first night trapped in his avatar is trying to eat him. Yes, it turns out to be at least in part his own stupid fault, and he needs the Beautiful Native Girl to show him the Ways of Her People before he can Save Them From the Foreign Aggressor. But how many prey animals do we see?

Well, there are all those horse-things, monkey-things, bird-things, the big rhino-things . . .

Take a romp through the woods and tell me how many deer you see. Prey animals are skittish.

You're really grasping for anything now. Tell me, what do the sandworms in Dune eat? What food source on a dessicated desert world could possibly support creatures so huge?

How do they get rid of all the heat their muscles would generate? They're kilometer-long worms moving at the speed of a car, they should be roasting themselves.

Guess Dune's not sci-fi after all . . .

Van Rijn
2011-Jan-04, 06:05 AM
Anything, essentially. Oh, a fair amount of the military technology is just obvious extrapolation from what we have now. Helicopters specially designed for the planet don't worry me. The engineering on that is pretty easy. But honestly, the entire avatar program which was the story bothered me. It didn't make sense to me. I couldn't see how it would work.


In general concept, Avatar technology seemed to me to be a reasonable extrapolation of telepresence (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telepresence) and remote controlled animals. (http://www.wireheading.com/roboroach/index.html) Quoting:

This [cockroach] is no ordinary under-the-refrigerator type bug. This roach has been surgically implanted with a micro-robotic backpack that allows researchers to control its movements. This is Robo-roach. "Insects can do many things that people can't, " said Assistant Professor Isao Shimoyama, head of the bio-robot research team at Tokyo University. "The potential applications of this work for mankind could be immense." Within a few years, Shimoyama says, electronically controlled insects carrying mini-cameras or other sensory devices could be used for a variety of sensitive missions - like crawling through earthquake rubble to search for victims, or slipping under doors on espionage surveillance.

However, since Avatar technology is fictional, I wouldn't expect much (if any) explanation of how it would work. In science fiction, the general rule is the less said about how fictional technology is supposed to work, the better, because the explanation will necessarily have fictional elements as well.


Various of the species are specifically shown to "plug in" to the Na'vi and become essentially symbiotes. How does that even evolve?


I'd agree with Kamaz on this. The concept in this movie strikes me as being similar to some versions of the Gaia hypothesis, with the entire Pandora ecosystem acting as a single organism with intelligent management (Eywa). The planetary network has likely been around far longer than the Na'vi.



And what about predator-prey ratio? Everything we see in What's-His-Name's first night trapped in his avatar is trying to eat him. Yes, it turns out to be at least in part his own stupid fault, and he needs the Beautiful Native Girl to show him the Ways of Her People before he can Save Them From the Foreign Aggressor. But how many prey animals do we see?


It isn't clear to me that we can draw any conclusions about the predator-prey ratio based on just what Sully encountered.




The low gravity. The fact is, I have no doubt that Cameron knew he wanted flying creatures and decided that, if he was going to make people think he was doing serious science, he needed an explanation for it. I acknowledge that most of the audience didn't care. The audience doesn't, in general.
You try to point out errors in popular entertainment, and you're told you're over-thinking it. You know that as well as I do, having experienced it yourself. We're usually on the same side about it, come to that! So he got his advisors to come up with an explanation they could put in the material that people only got if they went looking for it so he could say, "Oh, no, we explained that!" And that keeps the people who do care from noticing how much still was screwed up, because he explained away some of the problems.

I had the impression of a story built on a rather good foundation, not one where justification was an afterthought. In any event, the low gravity is mentioned in the movie, so I don't know how it could be considered a retcon.

And, yes, we usually are on the same side of these discussions, but obviously I had a very different impression about this movie than you did.

Gillianren
2011-Jan-04, 06:33 AM
I think we'll have to agree to disagree. Frankly, I thought the movie was silly on quite a lot of levels, with my problems with the science limited to an afterthought. I really don't even care enough to see it a second time, much less try to remember what bothered me when I saw it a year ago. It sure was pretty, though.

Swift
2011-Jan-04, 02:16 PM
Van Rijn, it doesn't matter how many good points you make. Gillian has a degree in the humanities, so her opinion counts more than your facts.
Uhh..... I assume you forgot one of these :) , because otherwise that seems to be both rude and illogical.

Elukka
2011-Jan-06, 02:13 AM
Yes Sir. In Avatar, they were using these ridiculous dual rotor aircraft . Yeah, what an interesting failure mode those things will have.
It gives new meaning to the term: Spin out !!!

Best regards,
Dan
Yeah, dual rotor aircraft are so implausible... They'd never fly.

http://img87.imageshack.us/img87/2838/v22osprey01.jpg

Edit: Wikipedia has a list (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transverse_rotors).

danscope
2011-Jan-07, 12:14 AM
The failure mode on that osprey is spactacular. It is...perhaps, the most contraversial aircraft ever produced, extravagantly expensive beyond
all logic, and a military boondoggle. There is less than high praise for it. It does one job. It will never be a widespread application.
To describe it as a killer is not far from the truth.
"The fifth prototype V-22 Osprey crashed on its first flight (June 11, 1991), because of incorrect wiring in a flight-control system. ...
www.aviation-history.com/video/v22.htm - Cached - Similar"
You don't have to look far down the google page to find out about how dangerous it is.
For the same money, we could have bought 40 times as many huey's . But that's another conversation.
So we leave it at controversial .

SkepticJ
2011-Jan-07, 12:31 AM
Doesn't seem to be a problem with the dual-rotor design to me.

Anyway, that was twenty years ago. They fixed the problem, and Ospreys are serving as we speak.

Tell me about a vehicle design that's never failed and killed people.

Tell me what happens when the tail rotor on a normal helicopter fails. Spins out of control, doesn't it? What a failure mode that is. Or when the main rotor fails--falls out of the sky. What fool would ever trust their life to such a machine?