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Science Is Good

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"Truth is binary. There is one, positive, yes, light, the machine, progress, upgrade, holism, independence, eternity. And there is the opposite of these, which is anathema."
The Manichean Protocols 1:12-14, Civilization: Beyond Earth, Supremacy level 17 quote

The Inverted Trope of Science Is Bad, this trope occurs when science is portrayed as a force for good, and progress as an admirable goal for its own sake. Conversely, its absence, abuse, or suppression is portrayed as evil or detrimental to humanity. This viewpoint can take many forms — a Science Hero can use their skills to fight baddies, characters can teach the audience to appreciate science in everyday life, a setting's advancement and prosperity is credited to scientific discovery and engineering, or a team can use STEM to overcome problems of varying scales, from everyday nuisances to global catastrophe. These stories tend heavily towards the Enlightenment side of Romanticism Versus Enlightenment.

This is common in Post-Cyberpunk and Solar Punk; these genres answer Cyberpunk's (usual) message of Science Is Bad with more positive views on technology and industry. In the latter especially, a blend of nature and engineering results in an environmentally utopic future. Works can also take a more balanced stand — the abuse of science is bad, and it is best used as a force for good.

Heroes of this story may be a Science Hero, The Smart Guy, or even a sympathetic Mad Scientist, while the villain may be an Evil Luddite. Compare In Harmony with Nature, which treats nature as "good", and with which this can overlap, especially if the focus is on life sciences. Contrast Science Is Bad, Science Is Wrong, Measuring the Marigolds.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • This is the main theme of Dr. STONE. After an apocalyptic event sees all of humanity petrified for thousands of years, science geek Senku must use his knowledge to help bring the world back out of the stone age. Scientific advancement is treated as the true potential of the human race, and anyone who works against it is shown to be selfishly holding everyone back for personal gain.
  • In Stellvia of the Universe, science is pretty much the only thing standing between humanity and extinction of our species — and that's after scientific progress has pulled humanity Back from the Brink of extinction two centuries before the main story. Note that none of these extinction threats was the work of humans or their science.

  • Alongside George Washington, Science is divinized in The Apotheosis of Washington. Represented by mighty Minerva, science is presented as a collaborative effort by curious children, hard-working scribes, and wise statesmen to make America greater with their ever-greater machinery. Minerva even stands right next to a rainbow to further science's purity and goodness.
  • Raphael Rooms: "The School of Athens" idealizes all of the ancient Greek mathematicians, physicists, and philosophers as members of a single beautiful university. A special honor goes to Aristotle, who represents earthly knowledge with his downward gesture, who is walking towards the audience alongside Plato. They are walking right into the painting across the wall from the "The School of Athens" to "The Disputation of the Sacrament", therefore indicating science and reason can lead one to the truth and goodness of the Christian Christ in the Eucharist.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: Peter Parker is known for being a science geek who, despite being bullied and unpopular in school, uses his knowledge of science to create gadgets like his trademark web shooters.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Big Hero 6:
    • The film stars a team of otherwise-muggle teen scientists and engineers who use their STEM backgrounds to develop equipment and techniques for fighting villains.
    • Much emphasis is placed on Baymax, the medicare robot created and developed by Tadashi, and how he has the potential to help many people.
  • Meet the Robinsons: Cornelius's inventions and scientific prowess are outright credited for making the future as wonderful as it is.
    Wilbur: Robinson Industries, the world's leading scientific research and design factory. My dad runs the company. They mass-produce his inventions. His motto, "Keep moving forward." It's what he does.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Unusually for a film with the premise "new invention nearly dooms the world". Yes, Flint creates an untested machine with the potential to become dangerous, but he's wary of not pushing it past its safety limits (perhaps not as wary as he should have been due to Acquired Situational Narcissism) and when he first notices it's about to go critical, he immediately goes to shut it off. Unfortunately the Mayor, blinded by the economic boost the machine is providing the town, gets there first and pushes it way beyond capacity. In short, science provides a good for humanity; politics ruins it; science ultimately saves the day.
  • Princess Classic Anneliese from Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper would prefer to spend her days reading science books.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter/Spider-Man watches a science video on YouTube with a Cool Teacher teaching the viewers about overloading batteries. Spider-Man uses this knowledge later on to defeat Electro via Phlebotinum Overload.
  • Present in Avatar; the scientists are all good guys and it's through the scientific approach that they realize they shouldn't interfere with Pandora's ecosystem. The Na'vi goddess is also a real being, fully examinable and explainable through science. The bad guys are the military and corporates who misuse technology. The movie does not suggest that humans should shift back to hunter-gatherer culture like some supporters and detractors believe. In fact, the supplementary material is pretty adamant that scientific advancement is the only way to rescue Earth from its miserable state, and that research from Pandora is vital to this progress. The message is that aboriginal peoples should not be forced to adapt modern lifestyle against their will, and that horrible consequences caused by environmental exploitation can't be fixed with more exploitation.
  • Black Panther (2018): Wakanda's advancement and prosperity is credited to the many creative ways they were able to engineer vibranium. The country is very high-tech and its residents fully enjoy the benefits. Princess Shuri in particular is noted as one of their best and brightest scientists, and her engineering skills aid T'challa and their allies several times.
  • The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. Blunt force could kill the rhedosaurus, but it spread the beast's disease far and wide, and only our heroic scientist can figure out a way to kill the rhedosaurus and the disease. Luckily, and unusually, the army guys are extremely cooperative.
  • Bride of Frankenstein. The reformed Dr. Frankenstein is forced by evil Mad Scientist Dr. Pretorius to return to his old ways. The twist: Early on, Pretorious shows us his collection of tiny humans in glass jars, practically announcing that he's Mephistopheles. To this, Frankenstein replies, horrified, "This isn't science!" Here, sane Science Is Good, and has standards, but Magic Is Evil.
  • The decline of science is largely responsible for the famine in Interstellar. It is only when a curious former pilot and a rag-tag team of NASA astronauts leave the planet to find a new Earth in outer space that humanity has any hope to survive. Science even seems to be responsible for The Power of Love, since Love is the fourth dimension which allows future humans to come back in time to save the modern day.
  • Young Frankenstein: In contrast to its inspiration, science in this movie is not bad. The Monster's creation is not inherently an evil act, Froderick refuses to fear things he can't understand, and although the Monster struggles to find a place in society, he finally adjusts thanks to modern-day medical procedures.

  • Artemis Fowl typically tends to show science as a good thing used by both humans and fairies. Although fairies have magic, they also use advanced technology and Magitek. It is mentioned that without science and technology, the fairies would be unable to hide underground and probably would have been wiped out by the more primitive but far more numerous humans.
  • The Space Trilogy: In That Hideous Strength, the only eminent scientist at N.I.C.E., the chemist William Hingest, is also the only member to cut out the flattery and politics and say what he thinks. His pursuit of the truth also allows him to see that N.I.C.E has no interest in anyone's good and he quits before the Institute can indoctrinate him.
  • The plot of Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria revolves around the importance of science and learning about science.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory: The show features several scientists in the main cast who are constantly awed by the miracles of science that they whip up and dedicating their lives to its cause.
  • Eureka: Although science experiments go horribly wrong (or right) every week, it's (almost) always in service to the goal of pushing back the boundaries of humanity's knowledge of the universe. The science and technology may be firmly Hollywood Science, but there's an underlying respect for the idea of science — that is, a tool that we can use to better understand the world around us and how it works — that runs through the entirety of the series. There's occasional hand-wringing (and more than a few episode plots) that revolve around Eureka and Global Dynamics working on strictly military projects, but the argument is made that the pure research has to be funded somehow, and developing weapons for the military is a small price to pay for the wealth of knowledge Eureka produces. Even the idea of scientific knowledge being used to create better weapons isn't dismissed out of hand: America has enemies, and while Mutually Assured Destruction isn't the best answer to humanity's violent tendencies, it's at least an answer.
    Henry: She was an Austrian physicist who discovered nuclear fission which then led to the invention of the atomic bomb.
    Jack: Oh, well, by all means, let's celebrate that!
    Zoe: Meitner refused to work on the bomb, dad.
    Jack: Oh.
    Henry: Tonight's dance is a tribute to her ingenuity, not what others chose to do with it. Her passion for exploration, her commitment to bettering the world, is the ideal Eureka is meant to strive, to meet. That's what we're celebrating.
  • The Flash (2014), constantly shows off all the amazing things science can do, either through the metahumans the main characters encounter or the inventions they build.
  • In one episode of Sliders the gang ends up sliding to a world where all new technology was banned after the end of World War II. This world's version of Quinn was killed by polio, and they convince Quinn's dad that technology is not bad and would have saved his son. He helps them to repair their timer with his dead son's illegal technology. The local Evil Corporation decides to steal the timer as they have been creating technology in secret so they can corner the market once the ban is lifted.
  • Star Trek, particularly the original series, portrays a fairly utopian, post-scarcity, post-racism future for humankind, with Cool Starships and Faster-Than-Light Travel. Unlike many science-focused works, the original series is fairly idealistic and romantic, showing respect for both nature/tradition and new science and medicine.
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy obviously runs on this trope, being a Science Show where Nye explains scientific concepts to kids. Bill Nye Saves the World goes even further, showing specifically how scientific reasoning and technology can be applied to solve major problems and improve quality of life.
  • Doctor Who, while frequently featuring evil Mad Scientists, and horrors created by misapplied technology, also has a Science Hero in its lead character, who generally saves the day by understanding the science better than the villains who misuse it on purpose or the fools who misuse it by accident.
    Leela: I, too, used to believe in magic, but the Doctor has taught me about science. It is better to believe in science.
  • Chernobyl, despite being about the worst nuclear disaster in history, is a Good Science narrative. As Legasov says late in the series, the "invisible dance" of atoms that power a reactor is beautiful when things go right. The problem is when officials who don't fully understand or respect the inherent dangers make decisions based on financial convenience, self-interest, or propaganda. All of the problems with the plant originated when the Soviets decided to cover up the potential Failsafe Failure, and a political climate that bred buck-passing, secrecy, and face-saving exacerbated everything.

  • The educational album Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants.
    A scientific theory,
    Isn't just a hunch or guess.
    It's more like a question,
    That's been through a lot of tests.
    And when a theory emerges,
    That's consistent with the facts,
    The proof is with science,
    The truth is with science.

    Tabletop Games 

  • With its theme of empowering young girls, Barbie has featured quite a few science-themed dolls.
  • Played with in Ever After High. Several characters, such as Apple White, are shown to be good at magic. Magic, as presented in the franchise, is treated much like science. As the franchise markets towards little girls, it's likely meant to encourage girls to enjoy science.
  • Project MC2 subverts Clarke's Law for Girls' Toys. It's a Monster High-like series of dolls meant to get girls into science.

    Video Games 

  • Horizon Zero Dawn: Despite the post-apocalyptic setting, there is a very strong running theme of pro-science throughout. Technology is treated as a neutral tool that can be used for good or evil, but science and understanding are treated as universally good. It's no coincidence that the villains use a lot of Lost Technology that they don't understand in the slightest, while the heroic characters are at least trying to understand. Take the apocalypse itself: Ted Faro created a self-replicating swarm of murderbots without considering the consequences, and they started eating every living thing. Elisabet Sobeck took most of that same technology and used it to create an AI that would be able to disable the swarm after they ate everything and went dormant, restore the biosphere, and eventually recreate and educate the human race. It's also notable that, by far, the greatest crime in the game was when Faro destroyed the part of the system that was supposed to teach the new human race science and history.
  • One of the more downplayed messages of Life Is Strange is this. While Max is an art student, the science students at Blackwell are presented as interesting and helpful with their knowledge (in particular Warren's knowledge of science helps out at several points). Even Chloe, of all people, has some of her Hidden Depths revealed by showing her knowledge of chemistry and physics (which is only played up in Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, which confirms that she has a deep love of science despite being Book Dumb).
  • Mega Man Battle Network: In contrast to Mega Man (Classic) (which doesn't lean either way) or its Sequel Series (where it shown the toll that scientific progress has taken for the world and humanity), this series has the general idea that the internet and networking technology can be used to achieve and create great things that help advance human life. All of the threats in the games come from the baddies trying to destroy or corrupt the whole internet technology for their own reasons, and our heroes, Lan and Mega Man, have to stop them to prevent such things from happening.
  • The Outer Worlds had the importance of scientific literacy as its main theme, where much of Halcyon's problems—besides the profit-minded and incompetence of the Board—is the lack of specialists needed to maintain the infrastructure.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 1, the nature-based world of Bionis is invaded by the mechanical soldiers of Mechonis, and they are the main enemies of the game. Until the third act, where it's revealed the Machina are Well-Intentioned Extremists, the Technology Goddess is benevolent, and the spirit of Bionis (aka, the Nature God) is the real villain, thereby playing this trope straight.

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • Jem subverts Clarke's Law for Girls' Toys by featuring a lot of technology in its backdrop. The supercomputer Synergy was created by the Benton sisters' deceased father, Techrat is very tech savvy, and Minx is as well.
  • Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and its followup TV series have the titular Jimmy, a genius who uses science, his brain and all of his inventions to solve everyday problems. While he does sometimes make a few mistakes, overall science is portrayed positively.


Video Example(s):


Electricity Rap

In episode 6, an inventor tries to convince some nobility to use electricity in order to modernize Japan. But they're more focused on its dangers and shoot down his ideas. Mei, being from the modern era and knowing its many uses, decided to step in and explain the wonders of rap/song form!

How well does it match the trope?

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