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Role of science fiction in communicating science

Science fiction is not only an effective learning device for school children but it could just be judiciously used in communicating science to lay people as is evidenced by a study[unpublished] conducted in eastern uttar pradesh,India.The study in question reveals that people get easily attracted when they are told about issues in S&T using a story/sf format .It could be just a story in narration or a drama to easily communicate many issues in S&T affecting common man in region concerned.
Sf usually tell us about the possible impacts of S&T not only on individual man but on the societyas well.Many environmental issues and messasges could easily be taken to masses when they are woven in sf form.Sf has truly been regarded as contemporarary mythology as it spells a long lasting impression on the audience who have been familiar with the age old tradition of listening attentively to mytholological stories and legends.Common man finds sf as a new and modern form of same tradition and gets easily familiarise with the genre.
Please enlighen me!

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Comment by Swapnil Bhartiya on June 12, 2007 at 14:51

I think, SF movie is a great resourse for educating people, as long as not produced by the likes of Jerry bruckheimer . However, Stenly Cubric was one of the directors who ensured that scientic facts are maintained in movies. Even, Carl Sagan was very strict while filming the Contact. But you are right: for good visual effec directors do compromise with facts.

Coby, I agree with you that movies have been more inspiring/damaging than any other for of literature -- Jaws opened an undisclosed war againts sharks, they were killed in thousands.

But, there are also movies like Solaris (Tarkowski one and not Soderberg), which do take us in multidimensional space and make us think -- is it possible.

Coby, what do you think is the reason SF movies, despite being the all time highest $ grosser, fail to bring about change in society?
Comment by Dr.Arvind Mishra on June 7, 2007 at 1:39
thanks Cobi,its really very interesting and useful info.
kind wishes,
Comment by Cobi Smith on June 6, 2007 at 12:34

you might be interested in this:

Public attitude research conducted by Biotechnology Australia shows that one of the major sources of information on human reproductive cloning is movies. Traditionally, understanding of new and emerging technologies has come through the mass media but human cloning, being so widely addressed through the popular culture of movies, is more effectively defined by Hollywood than the news media or science media.

This study looks at 33 movies made between 1971 and 2005 that address human reproductive cloning and it categorises the films based on their genre and potential influence.

You can download it here:
Comment by Dr.Arvind Mishra on June 4, 2007 at 17:54
Friends, see what someone very special to sf and me wants to say on this blog and here it is:
Using Science Fiction to teach Science in India
On the Research and Media Network Dr. Arvind Mishra writes about a study in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, India that science fiction can effectively teach science to both school children and lay people. He asks if this method of teaching science is used elsewhere around the world.

As I've written about previously, I think that's a great idea. At least here in the U.S. there seem to be some teachers who are using science fiction books and movies - both with good science and with bad science - to teach basic scientific concepts. I get the impression, however, that some are reluctant to use that approach because it might seem frivolous. Is that an accurate impression? I'd love to hear from people who are actually using science fiction as a science teaching tool. (via SF Signal)_ Peggy

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* Location: Sunny SoCal : United States
Comment by Dr.Arvind Mishra on June 3, 2007 at 16:45
Hi Cobi!
Thanks for comments.Its an old problem with" visual scifi' a term sarcastically coined by the great Asimov who also encounterred similar embarrasement like you rs'.Film industry is badly behind money only and they hardly bother about the stuff.And many a times they just propogate bad science and even wrong science too.I am afraid what could be a way out to this mess! I am happy to see you say something on the forum after a long time.Trust you make it more frequent henceforth.
kind wishes,
Comment by Cobi Smith on June 3, 2007 at 15:18
Hi Arvind,

I think that science fiction is an important mode of communicating science - but I think I'm in a minority, at least in the film industry. I was recently in Los Angeles debating with some sci-fi script writers the importance of trying to make their scripts scientifically accurate. They thought this wasn't as important as getting finance and audiences, for obvious reasons!

I'm building a niche in script editing for scientific accuracy, so some people do care about making their work scientifically plausible as well as entertaining - just not the majority, it seems.

I think the entertainment industry needs to see the value (not in dollars) of having plausible scripts/novels, as opposed to blockbusters that are so far-fetched it makes scientists cringe.

How can we increase the perceived value of this?


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