Saturday, December 6, 2008
TV shows and science
Response to Hugh Hart's article in wired.com, "An Injection of Hard Science Boosts TV Shows' Prognosis" on December 5th, is not entirely congruent. Sure, these programs have lots of gadgets, flame, smoke and just like magic a lot of hocus pocus. It may well boost audience viewers and appeal but the science is lacking and quite misrepresentative. Do you really believe that the producers give a damn about the science or science methodology--of course not. Since the local PBS station is on a two week fund drive, I have watched a few of those programs listed...too many instruments that perform instant analysis. But then, accurate science is boring and easily turn a 60 minute program into one of weeks. Funny too how insight can be instantaneous and the criminal caught. Some of the worst offenders are Numb3rs and any of the CSI programs. I watched two Numb3rs episodes and gave thumbs down. Charlie usually drifts off into a visual aside attempting to explain some mathematical model or theory and then applies it to the current situation whereby prediction is employed and the crime solved. Not all human activity is quantified by equations. This is Charlie's downfall and he cannot see beyond his formulas. One episode had to deal with a disastrous train accident where he introduces the philosophy and mathematics of the behavior of congregational robots but when employed all they do is meander around in the wreckage with a remote camera not really justifying the earlier math lesson. These programs are quite popular and are based on character appeal and some questionable science representation despite the efforts of qualified experts that double check what is being told. There is another notion...the ethics of jurisprudence based on such scientific evidence--mistakes do happen.
"An Injection of Hard Science Boosts TV Shows' Prognosis"