Scientific accuracy

Interesting article at HMS Beagle on scientific accuracy in movies and TV—covers some of the same ground all such articles cover, but talks with (among others) a comparative anatomist who offers consulting services for people doing computer animation.

(You may have to register (for free) with BioMedNet to get to that page. I registered a while back, and the only mail I've received as a result is their regular "issue now live" mailing, which you can opt out of if you're less lazy than I am.)

HMS Beagle, btw, also carries original science fiction.

It's interesting: I don't tend to care about the precise accuracy of things I'm not familiar with, but I care a lot about it in areas I am familiar with. For Strange Horizons stories, I try hard to make them as scientifically plausible as possible. That article quotes a Michael Crichton piece in which Crichton says: "In a story like Jurassic Park, to complain of inaccuracy is downright weird. Nobody can make a dinosaur. Therefore, the story is a fantasy. How can accuracy have any meaning in a fantasy?" I think he's way off-base. All fiction is fictional by definition; what I want is not reality, but verisimilitude. There's a big difference for me between a story that doesn't contradict anything we know about science, a story clearly set in another universe that follows its own internally consistent scientific rules, and a story that appears to be set in our universe but relies heavily on violating known science.

I have no problem in some cases with vague hand-waving; I almost always prefer that to precise but nonsensical technobabble. "I fixed up the engines" is fine with me; "I reversed the polarity of the neutron flux" is ridiculous.

...I just found out that the use of that phrase on Star Trek is actually an in-joke reference to its use on Dr. Who. That makes it much more forgiveable. If you're ever in need of an explanation for a Star Trek phenomenon, btw, you might try some technobabble explanations.

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