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As I mentioned earlier this week over at Geekosystem, I’m pretty sure that establishing rigid guidelines about scientific accuracy will not have any measurable effect on how audiences understand science, nor how good the movie actually is.
Over at Big Think, Tal Pinchevsky surveys the historic relationship between science fiction entertainment and science education. While he doesn’t come down hard on either side, Pinchevsky seems to think that overall science fiction is capable of doing good things for science (and his generalization of John Scalzi’s analysis of the issue prompted an amusing comment).
So it pretty much boils down to this:
Science fiction entertainment at its best can inspire people to pursue studies in related fields like science, computer programming, engineering, linguistics, and physics. At its worst, science fiction just adds to the pile of shitty movies that get re-run on cable. And isn’t all of this discussion simply avoiding the real culprit: How miserably underfunded and uninspiring our public education system (with few exceptions) has become?
Either way, I can’t think of an instance where inaccurate science in science fiction actually had a harmful effect on audiences or science education. (And no, I don’t count wanting your money back for AVP or The Happening as genuinely harmful. Marginally harmful to one’s dignity, yes.)
Can we please stop talking about this now?