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Old November 23 2012, 10:36 PM   #16
Christopher
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

gblews wrote: View Post
I would also think that the "science" of ST TNG is no closer to real science than what is seen in Fringe. In fact, of the two, I think Fringe has gotten closer to real science.
Oh, on the contrary. TNG had excellent science advisors in the persons of Rick Sternbach and Mike Okuda (both members of the TrekBBS, by the way), and while Roddenberry was alive he pushed for the science to be as credible as it could be. It was much more grounded in real physics and engineering principles than later series were. One of the best examples was the periodic binary-star nova in "Evolution," which was a pretty accurate representation of a real astrophysical phenomenon. There were a fair number of those in the first few seasons of TNG, whereas in the later shows we got far more fanciful ideas. Then there's the time warp in "Yesterday's Enterprise" which was explained as "a Kerr loop of superstring material" -- and though they mistakenly used "superstring" for "cosmic string," otherwise that was pretty solid physics-speak. All in all, TNG's science in the first several seasons was much better than it got to be by the end of the show, or by the time we got to VGR and ENT when it was all pretty ludicrous.

And DS9 had some moments of pretty good science too, even when dealing with fanciful concepts. "One Little Ship" dealt with its premise of miniaturization about as plausibly as anyone could have, actually acknowledging the technical problems and coming up with explanations for them (like the need to miniaturize air molecules in order to breathe them). Obviously the writers of that episode had read Isaac Asimov's novelization of Fantastic Voyage, in which he heavily rewrote the story of the film to make better sense of its shoddy science -- or else their science advisor had read it and the writers, exceptionally, actually listened to him.



Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
Does anyone seriously expect to learn science from fictional TV shows?
Actually, that's the problem -- a lot of people do expect that, or at least unthinkingly assume it. People gain a lot of their perceptions of how the world works from fiction, and there are countless misconceptions that people have because they've seen them on TV all their lives and don't know any better. Like the belief that crashed cars are likely to explode so that you have to rush their occupants to a safe distance -- which is actually a very dangerous myth because a lot of accident victims have their injuries worsened from being moved too quickly by well-meaning bystanders. And most people believe police myths from fiction like the "one phone call" or the need to read someone their rights during an arrest (it's actually only necessary before an interrogation, IIRC). Then there's stuff like the "we only use 10 percent of our brains" myth that countless sci-fi shows, comic books, etc. use to justify psychic abilities or superpowers. People do routinely assume that what they're shown in fiction is valid -- especially if it's their only exposure to the concept at all.

So we mustn't dismiss the role of fiction as a teaching tool. Fiction does shape our understanding of the world whether it intends to or not, and whether we intend it to or not. Our brains didn't evolve during a time when there were TV and film and computers. For most of our evolutionary history, every experience we had, aside from dreams, was just life, all equally informative about the world and given equal weight. So today, when so much of our life experience is make-believe, we may superficially know the difference, but on a deeper level our brains' perceptions of the world are still being influenced by that input. It's just how they're wired.

And so that same process can be used to teach valid information as well as invalid. I've been reading science fiction all my life -- actually reading, in books with words and everything -- and I've learned a great deal about science from it, because there is A LOT of fiction out there that actually does have good science. It's not impossible. It happens all the time in print, so there's no reason in hell why it couldn't happen onscreen as well.
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Old November 23 2012, 10:44 PM   #17
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

Christopher wrote: View Post
or else their science advisor had read it and the writers, exceptionally, actually listened to him.
Actually yes, the idea was Andre Bormanis' although he didn't credit Asimov's novelisation of Fantastic Voyage. I used to have his book on Star Trek's science and I think IIRC it came up there.
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Old November 23 2012, 11:46 PM   #18
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

No.

Liked the first episode of Fringe but they're counting the episodes ran on Friday as part of the regular rotation. So next Tuesday, they'll pick up where the marathon leaves off today (the episode Tuesday jumps to 2009). I didn't have the time to watch today and don't like cluttering up my DVR with a dozen episodes of a single show.

So I'll watch it when it comes back to Netflix, if it ever does.
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Old November 24 2012, 12:54 AM   #19
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

I totally got interested in science after reading Stephen King and Dean R. Koontz as a kid. Now I read George Gamow, Kip Thorne and Richard Dawkins.

As a 10 year old, I knew stuff like Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica wern't realistic but it got me interested to know what real science was.
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Old November 24 2012, 01:08 AM   #20
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

Agreed, Christopher. It really is frustrating to see a diminished role of science in Sci-Fi, when it could easily be both entertaining and educational. Even our daily science program on Canada's Discovery Channel Daily Planet is more entertainment magazine compared to science magazine of previous years. The best production they've ever done that is along the lines that you've talked about is the Race to Mars miniseries from a couple of years ago. It was a dramatized trip to Mars and it was actually pretty realistic and they also had a companion documentary to go with it. I wish they'd have more content like that, but I realize that budget is a concern.
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Old November 24 2012, 01:16 AM   #21
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

Gotham Central wrote: View Post
So its slowly starting to look like Discovery's Science is starting to go after the fan base that SyFy has largely abandoned.

I was actually opposed to this at first. I like Science, and lamented the fact that it was yet another channel moving away from its core concept.

However a hybrid Science channel that actively tries to build bridges between real world science and science fiction could be pretty awesome. Its sort of how back in the golden days of the 90s, the SciFi Channel used to show things like Inside Space and other science fact shows.

Between BBC America and Science actively courting science fiction fans...can we now officially kick SyFy to the curb? Let SyFy become what its wanted to be for awhile now....USA2
Maybe they should change their name from Science to Science Fiction. SyFy can hardly complain at this point. Poetic justice.
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Old November 24 2012, 03:54 AM   #22
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

I'm starting to think Syfy should change their name to something more fantasy based, since other than Defiance, which doesn't even air until April, and Alphas, most of their stuff is more fantasy (Lost Girl, Merlin, Warehouse 13) or reality (Ghost Hunters, Face Off, Hot Set). I don't have a problem with the fantasy stuff, the three I listed are 3 of my favorite shows, but they aren't sci-fi. And before anyone points it out, I know fantasy is often categorized with sci-fi, but that doesn't change the fact that it isn't sci-fi.
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Old November 24 2012, 04:07 AM   #23
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

Well, "sci-fi" has generally been a much looser term than "science fiction" or "SF," since it's more of a pop-culture and mass-media label, and the lines have long been far more blurred there.

Anyway, the network's title has never been intended as a mere functional description of its content. The reason they originally chose "The SciFi Channel" as their name rather than "The Science Fiction Channel" was because they wanted something that was more of a distinctive brand than just a description, since they were always open to showing fantasy, horror, and other types of entertainment than just science fiction. The change to "Syfy" is taking it even further -- not only is it is a unique label, but it's one they can trademark. (I suspect the same reasoning is behind the Sleuth network's recent name change to the rather ridiculous "Cloo.") What it literally means is beside the point; it's about creating a recognizable brand identity.
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Old November 24 2012, 04:25 AM   #24
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

I guess that makes sense. I would have rather seen them go with something more generic, like Imagine or something more vague like that.
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Old November 24 2012, 05:02 AM   #25
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

I've never met a single person in my life who said they expected to learn science from sci fi on TV or in movies.

People may assume that TV and movies reflect reality rather than being a lot of BS created for the purpose of entertainment, but let's face it, those people are probably hopeless and their idiocy shouldn't impact how shows and movies are created. And again, I don't actually know people who are that dimwitted, although that might be more a result of my selectiveness in who I associate with, than anything else.

In my experience, people do understand that just because Ross on Friends has a huge apartment, that doesn't mean every person with a moderate salary in Manhattan has a huge apartment. And just because the Enterprise flies faster than light, that doesn't mean it will ever be possible in reality.

JD wrote: View Post
I'm starting to think Syfy should change their name to something more fantasy based, since other than Defiance, which doesn't even air until April, and Alphas, most of their stuff is more fantasy (Lost Girl, Merlin, Warehouse 13) or reality (Ghost Hunters, Face Off, Hot Set).
I thought that was the reason behind the silly name change, to signal that they're not "just" sci fi (and also have something copyrightable). I currently don't watch anything on SyFy, because nothing appeals to me, although I'm not positive that would change if they had more sci fi content.
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Old November 24 2012, 05:16 AM   #26
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

^I'd heard that about Syfy when they first changed it, but since then I've heard that the only reason they changed it was so they had a name they could trademark or copyright. I can never remember which you do with something like that.
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Old November 24 2012, 07:41 AM   #27
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

Most grist for the mill...Dollhouse and Terra Nova reruns too?
http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/201...ytheNumbers%29
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Old November 24 2012, 11:59 AM   #28
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Well, "sci-fi" has generally been a much looser term than "science fiction" or "SF," since it's more of a pop-culture and mass-media label, and the lines have long been far more blurred there.
Not particularly. The use of the label in media is not really any different from how it's used in literature.
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Old November 24 2012, 12:13 PM   #29
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
I've never met a single person in my life who said they expected to learn science from sci fi on TV or in movies.

People may assume that TV and movies reflect reality rather than being a lot of BS created for the purpose of entertainment, but let's face it, those people are probably hopeless and their idiocy shouldn't impact how shows and movies are created. And again, I don't actually know people who are that dimwitted, although that might be more a result of my selectiveness in who I associate with, than anything else.

In my experience, people do understand that just because Ross on Friends has a huge apartment, that doesn't mean every person with a moderate salary in Manhattan has a huge apartment. And just because the Enterprise flies faster than light, that doesn't mean it will ever be possible in reality.

JD wrote: View Post
I'm starting to think Syfy should change their name to something more fantasy based, since other than Defiance, which doesn't even air until April, and Alphas, most of their stuff is more fantasy (Lost Girl, Merlin, Warehouse 13) or reality (Ghost Hunters, Face Off, Hot Set).
I thought that was the reason behind the silly name change, to signal that they're not "just" sci fi (and also have something copyrightable). I currently don't watch anything on SyFy, because nothing appeals to me, although I'm not positive that would change if they had more sci fi content.

Exactly. "Real Science" in science fiction is fine, but science fiction, regardless of the sub genre, is about "ideas". Never mind the moving target that real science is (what is possible, never mind what is "real" is constantly changing or being reconceptualized), science fiction is more about provoking thought. And even the "hard science fiction" variety should be more about our current conceptions about what is real and what is possible. It should be about the limits, the edge about it, speculate beyond it, and mediate about what it means for us, humanity and the future.

It should make me ponder, make me feel, make me wonder.

And that is about far more than what goes on in the lab. Like the special effects, as interesting as it all is, it is just a prop. Not the point.

Now, I will grant you that incorporating "real science" can add a grounding as well as a gee whiz factor. And I'm all for it, as long as you accomplish the REAL mission of good science fiction, be entertaining and thought provoking, both of the latter two in equal measures.
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Old November 24 2012, 03:09 PM   #30
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Re: Is The Science Channel after our hearts?

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
I've never met a single person in my life who said they expected to learn science from sci fi on TV or in movies.
As long as you harp on that, you're missing the point. You're approaching it from the wrong direction. The point is not about what people "expect," because expectations are often self-limiting. The point is that the reason people have that expectation is that few SFTV producers have tried to make their work educational. And so people haven't seen what's achievable.

Science fiction can be a powerful educational tool. I know that from firsthand experience. And there are, in fact, people who are working to promote greater scientific literacy in film and TV -- scientists, educators, and filmmakers cooperating to make it happen. It's called The Science & Entertainment Exchange. Follow the link, read the site, learn the facts instead of being trapped by what you "expect."


People may assume that TV and movies reflect reality rather than being a lot of BS created for the purpose of entertainment, but let's face it, those people are probably hopeless and their idiocy shouldn't impact how shows and movies are created.
You're making a false and arrogant assumption. Every human being is equally susceptible to this. As I explained, it's just a function of how our brains evolved. I'm sure there are quite a few things you believe to be true that you've unconsciously osmosed from film and TV, that you've never questioned because film & TV are your only exposure to them. It's not "idiocy," it's just an unavoidable consequence of a lifestyle where so much of our perception of the world is shaped by what we see on TV rather than what we directly experience.


In my experience, people do understand that just because Ross on Friends has a huge apartment, that doesn't mean every person with a moderate salary in Manhattan has a huge apartment. And just because the Enterprise flies faster than light, that doesn't mean it will ever be possible in reality.
I'm not talking about the obvious breaks from life experience. I'm talking about the things that people have no other basis of comparison for and thus don't realize are implausible. As I said, countless people really do believe that crashed cars are time bombs waiting to go off, and they really do injure people trying to rush them away from their car crashes as a result. Countless people have similar misconceptions about police procedure and courtroom procedure because they've never experienced the reality, only the pervasive fictional misrepresentations. They don't question their assumptions because they've never been told anything else.

And there are tons of Americans out there who don't even know that the Earth revolves around the Sun, or can't tell the difference between a star system and a galaxy. They're not going to know that what they see on TV is wrong. But that's exactly why it's such a missed opportunity. Teach real science on TV and in movies, and it'll help make up for that gross deficiency of science education in our schools.



I thought that was the reason behind the silly name change, to signal that they're not "just" sci fi (and also have something copyrightable). I currently don't watch anything on SyFy, because nothing appeals to me, although I'm not positive that would change if they had more sci fi content.
JD wrote: View Post
^I'd heard that about Syfy when they first changed it, but since then I've heard that the only reason they changed it was so they had a name they could trademark or copyright. I can never remember which you do with something like that.
It's a little of both, but mostly what you said, JD. In fact, as I said, the reason they called themselves The SciFi Channel rather than The Science Fiction Channel to begin with was because they didn't want to limit themselves by claiming they only broadcast science fiction. So there was nothing new about that. The main reason for the change to Syfy was for trademarking purposes.



Kegg wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
Well, "sci-fi" has generally been a much looser term than "science fiction" or "SF," since it's more of a pop-culture and mass-media label, and the lines have long been far more blurred there.
Not particularly. The use of the label in media is not really any different from how it's used in literature.
There are many people in literary SF who'd disagree with you passionately. For decades, people in the prose SF community considered "sci-fi" a derogatory term, and many would protest as vehemently as if it were an ethnic slur. I think that attitude has faded somewhat, but I'm sure it's still present. In the prose SF community, the preferred terms are science fiction, SF, or sf. "Sci-fi" is often seen as a term for mass-media content that has the trappings of SF but isn't the "pure" stuff.
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