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I'm mad at PBS!

  1. Feb 23, 2015 #1
    The TV show _Nova_ which is one of the flagship productions of PBS is admittedly a bit uneven, but oftentimes pretty good.

    On starting to watch the January 14, 2015 aired episode, entitled _The Big Bang Machine_, which was about CERN and the hunt for the Higgs Boson, I found myself a bit annoyed.

    I know that popular science programming tends to be a bit oversimplified, and that some of the more subtle distinctions and factual presentations get the comic book treatment, but sometimes this seems to go a bit over and beyond the necessary and even acceptable.

    This show just seemed not merely to race past generally accepted models and theories, but rather to go almost out of its way to express explicit misinformation. Notwithstanding the numerous animations of 'cosmic explosions' of all sorts in the first few minutes of the program, we were treated to the following voice over at approximately 4:45 minutes.

    "The story begins at the very beginning of time... when the universe came into being in a massive explosion called The Big Bang." This was accompanied by yet another 'explosion' animation that would have warmed the cockles of Hal Needham's heart.

    That was pretty much enough for me to dive for the clicker and switch over to a rerun of _Family Guy_.

    For those interested in context, the _Nova_ episode can be viewed online:

    Y'all can make your own jokes or deconstructions of this, as I am sure that they will be better and more insightful than mine.

    Again, I know TV science is all about simplification and such in order to express complex ideas quickly to a broad audience, but this almost borders on inadvertent flat-earthism. Facts, shmacts..... as long as it looks exciting and holds the attention of the viewers. ...and as the case might be, give rise to several more difficult and strained conversations here on this board.


  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 23, 2015 #2


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    Yep. It's a constant problem.
  4. Feb 23, 2015 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    You can never go wrong with Family Guy.

    People want explosions, so PBS gives them explosions.
  5. Feb 24, 2015 #4


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    We make a living off of correcting pop sci inspired confusion here.
  6. Feb 24, 2015 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    We do? Where's my paycheck? :woot:
  7. Feb 24, 2015 #6


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    Why would someone waste his time in correcting a documentary rather than enjoying its fancy presentation :woot:? If the explosion was a nice effect, then it was noteworthy...
    Did it sell? it was amazing! It didn't? So be it , no more re-runs...

    I am more annoyed by some people who build personal sites, and spread para-science, where someone interested in the topic can visit and get confused.
  8. Feb 24, 2015 #7


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    2017 Award

    Hmm.. that's a good point... good point :smile:. I'm also lately very annoyed by crowdfunded pseudoscience, I've seen a couple of "projects" which made me sad, sad because people actually donate money to such "projects", money which could be far better spent on other things.
  9. Feb 24, 2015 #8


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    Chalk that up to the sense of altruism people reap from investing in noble enterprises. It furthers their sense of 'making a difference' in the world. I have little doubt the accounting ledgers for these 'projects', were they to exist, would be illuminating.
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