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View Full Version : Movies dumbing down science: a list of egregious (and funny) offenses



ToSeek
2007-Aug-23, 03:29 AM
Movies dumbing down science: a list of egregious (and funny) offenses (http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070816-movies-dumbing-down-science-a-list-of-egregious-and-funny-offenses.html)


As we've discussed more times than I care to recall, the US educational system does not do a good job of producing scientifically-literate adults, and the media isn't a force for clarity in the sciences either. Two physicists from the University of Central Florida are now saying the combination of the two makes everything that much worse. They claim that as Hollywood mixes realistic special effects with the physically absurd, they're leaving a scientifically-illiterate public completely bewildered about what's actually possible here in the real world.

In a paper (PDF) published in the ever-popular Praxis der Naturwissenschaften Physik, they lay out their case as follows: "often the absurdity is hard to detect by people not very fluent in science literacy and untrained in critical thinking. In this way, Hollywood is reinforcing (or even creating) incorrect scientific attitudes that can have negative results for the society." They then go on to list a fine collection of the ways in which Hollywood's sending scientific literacy down the toilet.

01101001
2007-Aug-23, 03:55 AM
Movies dumbing down science: a list of egregious (and funny) offenses (http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070816-movies-dumbing-down-science-a-list-of-egregious-and-funny-offenses.html)

ToSeeked by... ToSeek?

Physicist Says Hollywood Movies Hurt Students' Understanding Of Science (http://www.bautforum.com/small-media-large/63525-physicist-says-hollywood-movies-hurt-students-understanding-science.html)

It's a different article about the same paper:

HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTERS
Unlimited Fun but Limited Science Literacy
C.J. EFTHIMIOU1 and R.A. LLEWELLYN2
DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS
UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA

novaderrik
2007-Aug-23, 05:55 AM
i know of a few people in my real life that think 9/11 was faked because the buildings fell differently than the buildings that got clobbered in Armageddon..

Matherly
2007-Aug-23, 02:39 PM
(On a tangent from a comment in the article)

In the article they talked about Hollywood crime labs geting DNA tests back in seconds/minutes when it should take hours/days. I had two comments on this one...

First, when I worked a CompUSA we provided a "service" where parents got a little kit they would fill out and provide to authorities if thier kid ever went missing. Part of the kit was for a hair sample to provide DNA evidence. Our resendent Snarky-Techhead started convincing people that we were going to sequence customer's DNA at the back of our store with our "desktop Cray". Many believed it.

Second, the show Bones got this one right...
(Quoted from memory. Please forgive any inaccuracies)
Cam(Coroner): Looks like the blood didn't come from your victim
Booth(FBI Agent): (Pause) O.K., I know DNA test don't come back that fast
Cam: It hasn't. But the blood types don't match

Fazor
2007-Aug-23, 07:13 PM
I just read the article. I thought this one was unfair:

The X-Men make a last food stand: rough estimate of the calories Magneto had to consume to fuel the magnetic fields that moved the Golden Gate Bridge? 4.8 million, the equivalent to burning of 1,350 pounds of fat. Dieters, take note.

While the digestion/energy conversion might be true in humans, Magneto is a mutant. At the risk of sounding like the fanboys I so love to make fun of, this movie is about mutants--people with certian abilities that differ from regular human biology. Oh well. Just nitpiking.

Noclevername
2007-Aug-23, 07:18 PM
The X-Men make a last food stand: rough estimate of the calories Magneto had to consume to fuel the magnetic fields that moved the Golden Gate Bridge? 4.8 million
It's been stated in the comics that Magneto gets his energy from the Earth's magnetic field; still unrealistic, but at least he doesn't lose body fat over it.

As for the "noise in space" thing, that's been done to death. It's just for entertainment purposes, folks. If it bothers you that much, cover your ears. Or don't watch the movie.

Fazor
2007-Aug-23, 07:24 PM
As for the "noise in space" thing, that's been done to death. It's just for entertainment purposes, folks. If it bothers you that much, cover your ears. Or don't watch the movie.
Agreed

SkepticJ
2007-Aug-24, 03:26 AM
i know of a few people in my real life that think 9/11 was faked because the buildings fell differently than the buildings that got clobbered in Armageddon..

And two thousand + people from almost as many families are in on the conspiracy too? Human stupidity is truly limitless.

ineluki
2007-Aug-24, 08:50 AM
Movies dumbing down science: a list of egregious (and funny) offenses (http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070816-movies-dumbing-down-science-a-list-of-egregious-and-funny-offenses.html)

Somehow I would this article more seriously, if they had chosen more realistic movies.

Complaining about the physics of comic superheros seems rather silly to me.

- Peter Parker mutating into Spider-Man is ok, but let's complain about some pull
- Magneto can create or manipulate magnetfields, but suddenly this object is to heavy

Next they are going to tell me that I can't fly on a broomstick...

Swift
2007-Aug-24, 12:55 PM
Next they are going to tell me that I can't fly on a broomstick...
Absolutely correct - the security people would never allow you to bring a broomstick on the plane, you'd have to put it in checked baggage. ;)

BigDon
2007-Aug-24, 03:19 PM
I was bitten by a radioactive cat once about two years ago. I'm still waiting for my super powers. Hell, anything would do, even if it was just the ability to lick my own... uh ... back.


Sid developed squamous cell carcinoma and Little Sister shelled out the dough for some serious radiation treatments. (As I pointed out she could have bought 3 pedegreed cats or five times her weight in shelter cats for the money she put out for his treatment. At the very least a nice used car) He couldn't be released for two weeks. He literally set off geiger counters. As the vet was understaffed and having problems of a personal nature I helped move him back from the treatment room to his holding cage. That's when I got bit. A few weeks after that the vet blew a wingnut and abandoned her practice. Just so you guys don't think I'm lying.

Matherly
2007-Aug-24, 06:34 PM
I was bitten by a radioactive cat once about two years ago. I'm still waiting for my super powers. Hell, anything would do, even if it was just the ability to lick my own... uh ... back.


Dang. Even the board-friendly version of that sentence made me want to poke out my minds eye.

( ;) )

SeanF
2007-Aug-24, 07:54 PM
They then go on to list a fine collection of the ways in which Hollywood's sending scientific literacy down the toilet.
The question is, is it going down clockwise or counter?

Fazor
2007-Aug-24, 08:00 PM
The question is, is it going down clockwise or counter?

And is the answer the same in both hemispheres? :)

Maksutov
2007-Aug-25, 09:03 AM
And is the answer the same in both hemispheres? :)At the exact moment of the equinox, during the solar eclipse, planetary alignment, and crossing of the galactic plane?

mike alexander
2007-Aug-26, 06:20 AM
I don't know if this counts, but while watching something called 'Skeeters' on the sci-fi channel, a group of people barracaded themselves in a sewer to escape the (naturally) giant skeeters (mosquitoes, I should mention), shooting them as they tried to crawl in to get the intrepid heroes.

Well, they ran low on ammo and it looked like curtains, but one of the guys peeled off his shirt, set it on fire and stuffed it down the pipe, blocking the rest of the skeeters from getting in. He then said something like "That should hold them, let's get some rest."

Either that shirt was made from an astounding new material that could burn for hours, or the guy must have been REALLY funky.

BigDon
2007-Aug-26, 09:14 AM
You would wonder why he didn't do that first and save all the ammo.

Neverfly
2007-Aug-26, 09:53 AM
I was wondering what it would be like if that act ignited sewer gas:think:

Alasdhair
2007-Aug-27, 11:07 AM
The most impressive thing about Magneto & the GG bridge was the way he effortlessly used his power to keep the deck infinitely rigid while his mutant army crossed: without the suspension cables firmly anchored at either end, the whole thing would otherwise be a tangled pile of scrap at the bottom of the bay...

SkepticJ
2007-Aug-27, 05:22 PM
The most impressive thing about Magneto & the GG bridge was the way he effortlessly used his power to keep the deck infinitely rigid while his mutant army crossed: without the suspension cables firmly anchored at either end, the whole thing would otherwise be a tangled pile of scrap at the bottom of the bay...


The pain! That was such an awful movie from a logical standpoint, e.g. why fly over on a bridge? If Magneto can move a bridge, why doesn't he just form the bridge (or any other metal) into millions of cannon balls and ball bearings and pelt away at the island? Why didn't he form metal sheets around himself to protect against Cure darts? The list is truly endless with that movie...

Too bad they couldn't make it live up to the previous two, which actually made some sense (assuming mutant powers existed).