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Filmmaker: Science as storytelling

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Interesting new book by scientist/filmmaker Randy Olson from U Chicago Press:

Ask a scientist about Hollywood, and you’ll probably get eye rolls. But ask someone in Hollywood about science, and they’ll see dollar signs: moviemakers know that science can be the source of great stories, with all the drama and action that blockbusters require.

That’s a huge mistake, says Randy Olson: Hollywood has a lot to teach scientists about how to tell a story—and, ultimately, how to do science better. With Houston, We Have a Narrative, he lays out a stunningly simple method for turning the dull into the dramatic. Drawing on his unique background, which saw him leave his job as a working scientist to launch a career as a filmmaker, Olson first diagnoses the problem: When scientists tell us about their work, they pile one moment and one detail atop another moment and another detail—a stultifying procession of “and, and, and.” What we need instead is an understanding of the basic elements of story, the narrative structures that our brains are all but hardwired to look for—which Olson boils down, brilliantly, to “And, But, Therefore,” or ABT.

Excuse me, excuse me, but this isn’t strictly true.

There definitely IS a science narrative already. It is constantly iterated quite strongly and simply in popular culture.

Anyone who has read New Scientist scrabbling for evidence for a multiverse or the latest nonsense about the origin of life or speculations on the origin of human beings, or better yet, evolutionary psychology should be in no doubt that there is a consistent science narrative:

That there is a simple, natural explanation for everything. And we have found it. (At least for this month. Next month another one.)

If, despite the awesome din, that story just doesn’t work any more, maybe the basic idea is wrong.

In which case, don’t phone Hollywood just yet.

Getting more dumbos, stumbos, bimbos, bimbettes, airheads, and suits involved probably won’t resolve the problem.

For whatever reason.

See also: Science needs metaphysics? So then Hawking’s attack on philosophy was misguided?

Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista

One Reply to “Filmmaker: Science as storytelling

  1. 1
    Robert Byers says:

    No Hollywood can’t help science do it better. UYes about presentation.
    Yet does hollywood tell the truth? Origin subjects andf conclusions are presented without the reality of creationists anf hugh public opinion disagreeing with certain conclusions like evolution.
    I remember the movie 9ah Raquel Welch where they are made tiny to go into a human body). In it one scientist says the body came from evolution and others said it must of been god who created it.
    Fair. Not today and no Raquel welch’s today or many good movies.
    Creationists need a great movie to push our stuff.
    How hard can it be to make a blockbuster?
    not hard i think,

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