Look closer. Think harder. Choose the sound argument over the clever one.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Movies dumbing down (but not just science)

From Ars Technica:

[Though] the US educational system does not do a good job of producing scientifically-literate adults, ... 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.

I agree, though movies' stretches of physics bother me least. As the author mentions:

Let's face it: most movies require a certain suspension of disbelief. But we're constantly bombarded by discussions of movie plotlines stretching that ability past its breaking point. I can't say I've ever seen an equivalent discussion of how ignoring the basic properties of reality can do the same.

Pointing out how something in a movie could never happen in real life is an awkward thing. It makes one come across a little, um, what? Geeky? Maybe. Of course we're suspending disbelief. It's just fiction, after all.

But I think the authors are onto something, too. I think lots of people uncritically internalize too much of what they see in movies--every kind of fiction--to their own detriment.


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