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The Sciences

Science and the Entertainment Industry

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJune 5, 2008 9:30 PM

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Maybe it's the bug I caught when I moved to LA. But increasingly, I've been thinking about how well science connects--or perhaps rather, fails to connect--to the entertainment industry. It seems to me that there's evidence on both sides of this issue. Positives:

1. Hollywood made a science movie, An Inconvenient Truth, into a smash success that changed the global warming debate forever. 2. Many popular films and television shows--Grey's Anatomy, Lost, and CSI come to mind--have plotlines that are driven by science and technology. 3. There is certainly nothing virulently anti-science about Hollywood--prominent actors like Brad Pitt, for example, were instrumental in the California stem cell initiative.

Negatives:

1. The Expelled phenomenon--you can make a virulently anti-science film and get pretty far marketing it, if you have enough money. 2. The Michael Crichton/Jurassic Park phenomenon--many of the narratives about scientists that seem to catch on most powerfully depict them as "playing God," crossing moral boundaries, turning into Dr. Frankenstein. I know it's a good story, but aren't there other good stories we can tell about science? 3. The Crystal Skull/X-Files phenomenon--the entertainment industry is seemingly obsessed with the paranormal.

What do you think? How does it balance out?

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