Unscientific Science

When a writer explains something blatantly unscientific with something else that's blatantly (or not so blatantly) unscientific, he has shown an example of Unscientific Science. For example, a writer might explain why two characters can hear each other in space by saying that someone has put air into space.

This happens frequently when a hard science fiction show is serialized, and the writers can't think of a better explanation for something happening. The solution for them is often to be more vague about the science behind what happened.

This is not for something unscientific that goes unexplained or unacknowledged. This is only for when something unscientific is used as an explanation for something else unscientific. If this page was for the former and not the latter, this page would be incredibly long.

Compare New Rules as the Plot Demands (when the science is normally consistent until this trope comes into play) and Magic A Is Magic A (when the writers are consistent about how the nonsensical science works).

A subtrope of Hollywood Science and a relative of Voodoo Shark.

Lots of overlap with Artistic License of most forms.


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     Anime and Manga  

  • Mazinger Z: During the Final Battle in the Gosaku Ota manga chapters, Mazinger-Z was thrown in a Lava Pit... and it emerged unscathed. When Big Bad Dr. Hell blurted out it was impossible (not even Made of Indestructium Mazinger-Z can endure a lava bath, let alone Made Of Flesh Kouji Kabuto), Kouji replied he had used the rockets located on Mazinger's feet to stir the lava and create an air bubble around his robot... which actually is harder to buy than the "It's Nigh Invulnerable and it emerged out very quickly" excuse.


  • In the direct-to-TV film Momentum, the protagonist is a physics professor who is also secretly a telekinetic. Two cops are investigating a series of bank robberies performed by people doing seemingly impossible feats. After he foils a convenience store robbery and is caught on camera, they come to ask him a few questions. They randomly bring up telekinesis. He points out that he's not an expert on anything like that. So they ask him in his capacity as a physics professor... because physics professors are supposed to know about things like that, apparently. His answer involves something about the telekinetic making a connection on the "cellular" level to the object he or she is moving. This guy needs to be fired immediately for saying stuff like that. The only way this could be reasonable was if it was limited to organic matter, which would exclude a vast majority of what they might want to use telekinesis on.
  • In a well-intentioned but misguided attempt to bypass Willing Suspension of Disbelief and the Rule of Cool, the explanation for how Gun Kata works in the movie Equilibrium is that experts were able to review thousands of gunfights and calculate the most likely trajectories of enemy fire, allowing a practitioner to dance around speeding bullets without getting shot. While the psychological aspects of this are vaguely plausible in that a large part of many functional martial arts involves similar exploitation of predictable instinctive human behaviors and blind spots, the problem is that these patterns change with a person's level of competence (and overlooks that shooting has very few technical "rules" to exploit compared to many martial arts; the "most likely trajectory of return fire" in reality is always towards the target). Even when going by the movie's premise, the most dangerous individual to a practitioner of Gun Kata would have attended Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: their incompetence means the area they hit might accidentally overlap with the zone where the Gun Kata practitioner knows no person with eyes should be aiming. As noted on the academy's trope page, this is often Truth in Television, but real experts who have actually studied real shootouts unanimously conclude the only effective way to survive a gunfight is to get behind the best available cover and hope for a miracle.


  • The Animorphs series has a couple. The biggest one is in The Mutation. The Nartec apparently used to be people who mutated after their island 'sunk'. This makes no sense. The explanation? Radiation sped up their mutation.
  • In the Maximum Ride series, the gang have wings and other bird-like attributes, and Erasers are basically werewolves. This is explained by the fact that their DNA was altered. Apparently, there is one specific gene for bird wings (which there actually isn't), and there's a gene that allows humans to... transform into werewolves?
  • In I Am Number Four, the Loriens have seemingly magical powers. It's explained... that it happened by evolution. And apparently, these adaptations were to protect the planet they lived on. We're genuinely not sure whether or not the authors intended for this to make sense or not.
  • The Reality Bug by D. J. MacHale. In it, the Reality Bug tries to break out of fantasy into reality. The explanation is that Jumpers are somehow giving the Bug physical power.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is full of this, and it's played for laughs. For example, the engine of the starship Heart of Gold needs to generate infinite improbability, but it is only possible to generate finite amounts of improbability, which led physicists to say it's virtually impossible to build one. Then someone reasoned that a virtual impossibility is the same as a finite improbability, and thus it could be built.
  • In Twilight, the vampires are supposed to be science-based. It was explained that when a person is turned into a vampire, they have all of their bodily fluids converted into a sort of venom, their eyes change color, their skin loses all pigmentation, they get flawless features (considered universally beautiful), and their cells become crystal-like. All of this is from venom "injected" by a single bite from normal teeth (that is, no fangs). Furthermore, the description of the sparkling means that the cells must be lined with tiny mirrors. Erm...
    • Also ignored when some of the vampires start making babies.
    • The book also tries to explain how science-based vampires have the ability to foresee the future, read minds, control the elements, electrocute others by touch, and so forth. Said explanation comes down to that same vampire venom that did all of the above somehow selecting a single "trait" the human has and amplifying it. Not only is that well beyond what a mutation can do, but it's heavily implied in the books (and outright stated in a few cases of the Illustrated Guide) that the super-powered vampires had some form of superhuman abilities as normal humans already. Stephenie Meyer seemed to be under the impression that there are humans in real life with the ability to see the future and that such a trait is on par with qualities like "compassion".

     Live Action TV  
  • Firefly leans towards Hard sci fi: it averts the unrealistic trope of Faster-Than-Light Travel, but it also has to be a Space Opera with dozens of inhabitable worlds. Its solution is to set the show in a solar system where one very large star has four other stars rotating around it. That kind of star system is quite possible in reality (indeed, there are singular planets that rotate around multiple stars), but it would almost certainly lack any terrestrial planets you could even start to terraform, and that's not getting into the wild variations of temperature and gravity that such a star system's worlds would have to face.

     Video Games  

  • The Professor Layton series loves this trope when it comes time for Doing In the Wizard. Any plot that relies on "supernatural" happenings will be debunked in a fashion that makes even less sense than, say, a vampire. It's blatantly lampshaded in Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney as Phoenix boggles at the "rational" explanation for the witchcraft.

     Western Animation  

  • Parodied a couple of times in Futurama.
    • In "A Clone of My Own", the Planet Express Ship can travel faster than the speed of light, according to Farnsworth. When Cubert calls him out on how blatantly wrong this is, Farnsworth explains that scientists increased the speed of light.
    • In "The Deep South", the inhabitants of Atlanta evolved into mermaids due to consuming caffeine. Made even more hilarious by the fact that this is basically what happened in the Animorphs book The Mutation (the example above), only here, it's played for laughs.
    • In "Calculon 2.0", the process Prof. Farnsworth uses to revive Calculon is blatantly reminiscent of a Satanic ritual, despite his insistence that it's all science. Hermes lampshades it by saying "This could not be less scientific!"
  • In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, main character Flint Lockwood invents a machine that turns the weather into food by "mutating" water. Water, as we all know, does not have a genetic code.
  • In Gravity Falls, a mind-switching "Electron Carpet" is explained as building up such a charge that it can switch minds, rather than just electrons. Of course, Dipper is twelve years old and is constructing a hypothesis from a carpet tag, but given that this took place after episodes with ghosts, clone-creating photocopiers, shrink rays, mermen, discarded candy monsters and rainbow-vomiting gnomes, it's not like anyone present would have batted an eye if he'd just said "magic".
  • Played with and mixed with Doing In the Wizard in South Park's episode Bloody Mary. A Marian statue begins bleeding out its ass, and is held to be a miracle. The Pope does what the real world Catholic church does and investigates. He concludes it's no miracle because the stone statue is bleeding out its vagina, and "chicks bleed out their vagina all the time."