Created By: theworldscreams on August 14, 2012 Last Edited By: theworldscreams on August 16, 2012
Nuked

Science Done Badly

Scientists don't follow the rules of their practice

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A spaceship manned with a scientifically capable crew lands on an alien planet. They know nothing about the atmosphere, possible life forms, or if there are any other dangers out there. Instead of scanning / scouting out the surface with robots or drones, they just get out and go exploring, possibly even taking off their life-preserving helmets!

OR:

An impossibly powerful ancient tablet is found. The fortunate archeologist recovers it from an old tomb that was never meant to be opened, maybe even pointing out the warnings scribbled all over it in hieroglyphs. Then his colleague walks in and reads out the unspeakable words unleashing the demons of hell.

OR:

A new life form is discovered by deep-sea biologists at the bottom of the Mariana trench. There is only one known specimen, and after the stressful ascent to the ocean surface, is near death. Instead of keeping it alive, a particularly curious scientist lets the creature out of its protective cage to play with it, leading to it die from exhaustion.

Basically, scientists that don't act like scientists. Rather than following their tried-and-true practices of taking samples and collecting readouts, they just blindly try stuff out - which of course leads to consequences that could have been avoided had they acted like actual scientists.

It's about scientists holding the IdiotBall throughout - not single actions, but rather their entire behavior makes the viewer doubt their capabilities as actual scientists.

Noticed this after watching Prometheus and Splice in short order. In Prometheus, the scientists act like children. A biologist (who should know better!) lets himself be killed by a creature that displays obviously threatening behavior, and a medical team decides to blow up an incredibly interesting artifact rather than taking samples, while in Splice, sexy time between our scientists is apparently more important than their work. At the lab. During office hours. There is no excuse for this!

Also I'm pretty sure I've noticed this in many more movies. Moments like this make you yell at the screen, going, "this is not how you do science!"

By the way, this is my first YKTTW submitted, so I have no idea if I'm doing this right.
Community Feedback Replies: 6
  • August 14, 2012
    Earnest
    There's a lot of good formatting tips in the "Tools" tab to the right, Welcome To TV Tropes is a good place to start.

    Example As Thesis can be used in trope writeups, but it's usually better to go with a general description and then get specific with examples or scenarios. So I'd suggest moving your fourth and fifth paragraphs to the top and expanding on them, while maybe condensing the examples you've made up.

    The standard practice is to create folders or tabs for each entry type, and give each work a bullet point and italicize the work's name. So your examples should be formatted like this:

    Film
    • In Prometheus, the scientists act like children. A biologist (who should know better!) lets himself be killed by a creature that displays obviously threatening behavior, and a medical team decides to blow up an incredibly interesting artifact rather than taking samples.
    • In Splice, sexy time between our scientists is apparently more important than their work. At the lab. During office hours.

    Also, since this trope will probably be filled with spoilers you may want to consider outright stating at the top there are Spoilers with bolded red font and that all examples will be untagged, in order to avoid walls of hidden text.

    You can hit the pencil icon on my post to see the formatting I used, and it's useful when you want to snag examples to add to a ykttw before launch without having to reformat things on your own.
  • August 14, 2012
    Generality
    I suppose this would be a subtrope of Idiot Ball. And it's often used to try and justify Science Is Bad or Science Is Wrong: the creators are trying to show how scientists cause problem, when real scientists would almost surely not do something so stupid.
  • August 14, 2012
    LarryD
    Also caused by "Writers are not (usually) scientists", and not doing the research. A hallmark of bad science fiction. And you see the parallel phenomenon a lot when (supposedly) military squads are sent in, they exhibit nothing of military tactics, discipline, or professionalism.
  • August 14, 2012
    Bisected8
    See also; No Plans No Prototype No Backup

    A few things that seems to come up are; scientists doing experiements without a test group (i.e. a group they haven't done anything to, so there's something to compare their results to), the complete absense of ethics boards in cases where they'd be needed and extremely small test groups.
  • August 16, 2012
    Antigone3
    Possibly related to Fingertip Drug Analysis. At least, anyone with any knowledge of chemistry should know the hazards of taste-testing unknown items.
  • August 16, 2012
    ccoa
    This appears to already be covered by the various Artistic License Indexes pages.

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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=2v5415t97ba11je2odktvknt&trope=DiscardedYKTTW