What's the *dumbest* "science" based movie you've ever seen?

Oh man. Anything by Michael Chrichton. He flogs the hell out of bad science tropes.




I heard him in an interview fess up to the storm not being realistic, but the you have no way to strand our hero.


I paid money for that. But then with both Joe Don Baker and Tim Curry in the cast I really wasn’t expecting good.


“Sanity is only the form of madness which is most favored by the majority.”

I forget where I read that, but it’s always stayed with me.

I agree that expecting the masses to adhere to any belief system for which there is no empirical evidence is unreasonable at best, and trying to base public policy on those unproven beliefs is highly unethical.


Which film? I still haven’t seen the new one as I am torn between ewww Tom Cruise and oooh one of my favorite stories.
The George Pal production is pure 50s SciFi drive in fun.
The book is pretty good and yes the end is kind of a cop out but then again it was early days for the genre.

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Not WotW, TAS.

Although I see there was a recent Andromeda Strain TV series too?

Yup. And some of the virus would mutate. You’d still have the killer strain around.


If you call something Scientology (or Christian science or creation science) then you’re gonna get judged on your science.


It has been years since I saw the film… I recently say the first bit and it was part well done and part oh jeez really hokey. I remember them figuring out what kills it and hoping they got it in the end but not much else.

War of the Worlds? I don’t think the aliens being defeated by microbes was a cop-out at all.


My survival rule for SF movies/TV-shows is simple. I treat them all as science fantasy, or more accurately techno-fantasy. For example, Stargate SG-1 was absurd, but mostly internally consistent with the mechanics of its universe. When, every once in a great while, some actual science sneaks into a movie or show - like the surprisingly realistic wormhole in Interstellar thanks to the filmmakers listening to their consultant Kip Thorne - it’s a pleasent surprise, but I never expect that to happen as a default.

Maybe. Science is really the Latin word scientia, which just means knowledge, and over the course of history has been used to describe knowledge outside the scope of empirically-tested hypotheses. In fact, what we usually call science in English today was for a long time prior called naturalism. So I’m okay with the word science being used outside the empirical context. Just because it’s been the most successful enterprise to go by the word science doesn’t give it the prerogative to wipe out the other usages, IMO.

Yes, I’m kind of splitting hairs.


True but it feels like one in the execution.


Kind of, hon.



I’m going to go slightly off-topic here, and choose a book:

Dan Brown’s Inferno.

Brown’s perpetual protagonist Robert Langdon has to chase down a virus which is designed to infect humanity and counter the trend of overpopulation.

The virus (which is designed to infect the every human alive) renders 30% of its carriers infertile, at random.

Let’s assume that makes sense from a virology perspective (I doubt it). The problem is this:

7/10 * 7/10 is a 49/100 chance that both partners in a relationship will be fertile. That means that, once the population stabilizes at a “sustainable level,” every fertile couple has to have 4-5 kids to prevent the species from going extinct. I think the math works out to ~20 generations until the human race is extinct if we keep our birth rate per fertile couple as is. It’s simple math.

The worst part? Langdon fails to prevent the spread of the virus. Congratulations, Dan! In your books, you’ve doomed the human race to extinction!


Well, it was a stretch that the Martians, advanced enough to mount an interplanetary invasion, wouldn’t have known terrestrial microbes were toxic to them and either planned ahead or just sterilized the Earth if there was no way to xenoform it.

But at the same time, H.G. Wells was writing in a time when much less was understood about microbial life. Though germ theory was postulated centuries before, it had only dethroned miasma theory a few short years before War of the Worlds was first published. At lot of Wells and Verne look dated now, but were cutting edge when they came out.

Now if we’re talking about the Spielberg adaptation, wow that was horrible! The 1953 movie was kind of silly, but cinematically much better than Spielberg’s vehicle for Tom Cruise’s career boost.


OK. I was wondering if you were referring to a book version of the Tom Cruz movie. Apparently when an author signs away the movie rights to their book, they sign away the rights to book adaptations of the movie…

Pierre Boulle’s original 1963 Planet of the Apes book is apparently very good, much of it based on the author’s experience as a prisoner of war. (Captured in Singapore, and subjected to two years’ forced labour, he also wrote Bridge over the River Kwai.)

For the 2001 Planet of the Apes movie, there were at least three (adult, young adult etc.) book adaptations quickly written and released and forgotten. I suppose no-one could believe in a stagnant society divided into three strata: aggressive gorilla soldiers, pedantic and politically conservative orangutan administrators, and liberal chimpanzee intellectuals.


Absolutely. I recommend it without reservation. I read it in English and then it was one of the first books I got through in French. That said, it’s very different than either the Heston movie (which isn’t bad, just very different from the book) or the more modern pieces of shit, actually I take that back. The Mark Wahlberg adaptation was shit, but the newer Rise of the Planet of the Apes, while not great, had some redeeming qualities.


War of the Worlds kills off the aliens by means of a disease, and I know lots of people call that a cop-out ending. The book does foreshadow it, though, and I would argue it is needed for both the theme and logic of the story.

When the book was written, it was the height of British power, when acceptance of germ theory and evolution were still relatively new. So now enter the Martians, who are from a planet thought to be much older than ours, and so should be much more evolved still. The book opens by talking about them studying us the same indifferent way we study microbes. Plainly, the British are not going to have more luck fighting them off than other people have had against their superior technology. Little successes, but a lasting victory would make no sense.

The only hope is that their longer evolution has left them unsuited for our world. And so, in the end, we turn back to the microbes. Presumably they were eliminated by Martians ages ago, and so they have lost their defenses against them; and now germs destroy what guns and steel could not. Really, it seems like the only way it could end.

There’s a lot of this that we now know isn’t right, and it’s hard to imagine how it could be updated without falling over on that, the deus ex microbia included. But except for the aliens digesting people, I think that in light of the science discovered at the time, the original stands out as one of the stories that takes the least liberties with it.


Wait that is a thing? Eww. No I have only read the original story. For a few years now I have been reading both Wells and Verne for fun. Verne is good fun but a lot of it reads like a travelog more than an adventure story.