Foolish Mistakes in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics - does anyone else care?

hej

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I found annoying the pseudo-science that Tyrell spouts about the replicants.

He starts off with real science -- and could have continued that way. I mean, the screenwriter either knew the science or had a scientific consultant, so further, realistic dialogue should have been easy.

My reaction was that Hollywood was just making fun of scientists, but I suppose the screenwriter could just have been sloppy and/or lazy.

Did anyone else even notice?
 

hej

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Which part about creating artificial humans did you find especially unscientific? :)

You made me burst out laughing.

I appreciate being made fun of. It's all good.

My point, though, is that the film could have used real science in the whole dialogue. Instead, it degenerated into nonsense.

As for creating artificial humans, I think you could /describe/ doing so in hard science fiction. The birth of an artificial (cloned) mammal -- Dolly, a sheep -- happened over two decades ago. I see the manufacturing/birth of genetically designed humans as therefore plausible -- though certainly unethical.
 

The Crawling Chaos

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I think your mistake is to think that depicting or relying on accurate science was in any way relevant to the storytellers, or to the story they wanted to tell.

Like most science-fiction stories, Blade Runner uses scientific ideas, like it uses environments and characters, all of them artificial, to tell a story.

The idea that it's okay for filmmakers to depict a fake world based on the real world, populate it with fake characters based on real human beings, and have them pilot fake flying cars based on real Earth-bound cars, but that the science they use should be just as real as the one we use boggles the mind.
 

hej

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I think your mistake is to think that depicting or relying on accurate science was in any way relevant to the storytellers, or to the story they wanted to tell.

but that the science they use should be just as real as the one we use boggles the mind.

As someone who knows the relevant science, I see it as completely appropriate to the story.

I find boggling not the initial use of real science, but rather the subsequent abandonment of it when it is still applicable.

I can see how the distinction between science and pseudo-science is meaningless to a layman. Even so, if a script-writer knows science or has a scientific consultant, I think using real science when suitable is highly logical. No need to jettison it if it still works.
 

Brian G Turner

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I appreciate being made fun of. It's all good.

It wasn't intended as a put-down - I'm genuinely curious about which part you specifically thought was bad science?

(I'm not coming at this from someone claiming Blade Runner is good science, as much as someone who just read a book on epigenetics and realizes that field didn't even seriously exist in the early 1980's ... )
 

The Crawling Chaos

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I'm going to discount the following possibilities:
A/ The research you think was omitted from or bastardised by the film may have not existed or been readily available to a screenwriter at the time
B/ Not every story adding a scientific undercurrent to its main plot is written under the tutoring of real scientists


From what I gather, you're coming at it from the perspective of a professional scientist, or maybe that of an amateur scientist. And it is understandable that you would want "good" stories to also feature "good" science. But it is a flawed position that is not tenable in the context of fiction - because every work of fiction is the fruit of its author's whims and intention(s). Works of fiction always depict a "story world" that is more or less consistent with the real world but no matter how accurate they are on the surface, these worlds only ever answer to the rules dictated by the storyteller, and not by those that govern the real world.

You can say that Blade Runner is unscientific, but you cannot fault the movie for being so, when you have failed to prove that the filmmakers had any intention to deliver a movie that was scientifically accurate.

Basically, your position is unscientific: You're starting from an assumption born out of wishful thinking ("I wish they hadn't...") and criticise the facts for not adhering to that assumption. If you start from the facts, there is nothing in Blade Runner that tells me that the film ought to be scientifically accurate. Its representation of 2016 Los Angeles is not factual, its characters are not factual, its premise is not factual, its vehicles are not factual. Why should its science be factual?

So I must reiterate: Blade Runner is not about Earth science or science in general, and it is not a scientific movie or a movie trying to depict, teach or criticise scientific truths. Therefore, while you're free to dislike it for what it is, it is unreasonable to isolate its representation of science as non factual when nothing else in the film adheres to a factual representation of our world.
 

tinkerdan

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I'm with @Brian G Turner on this: we need explicit examples of what you mean.

My point, though, is that the film could have used real science in the whole dialogue. Instead, it degenerated into nonsense

I know I don't remember the scenes verbatim; however I don't recall ever being pulled out of the story by bad, psuedo, or non-existent science, though I might be inclined to believe that there may have been a veering off in some direction because the relationship between the story and science is such that it demanded some other human aspects rather than the stale science to bring across the plot points.

Even in PKD's original story the character aspect of the story was more predominant than the science.
 

hej

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It wasn't intended as a put-down - I'm genuinely curious about which part you specifically thought was bad science?

(I'm not coming at this from someone claiming Blade Runner is good science, as much as someone who just read a book on epigenetics and realizes that field didn't even seriously exist in the early 1980's ... )

Oh, why thank you for your interest.

The point is that the dialogue could have continued in the same, scientific vein. Molecular genetics, while not as advanced as they were when Dolly was made, were sufficiently developed in the 80s to explain genetic engineering and even creation of organisms. Dolly was not based on nothing, and she occurred in 1996.

Epigenetics, while I do find interesting, is not necessary for the dialogue in the move. I am not dismissing it, just saying that a sufficient, scientifically accurate exchange could omit it.

From wikipedia (genetic engineering)
In 1976 Genentech, the first genetic engineering company, was founded by Herbert Boyer and Robert Swanson and a year later the company produced a human protein (somatostatin) in E.coli. Genentech announced the production of genetically engineered human insulin in 1978.[27] In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court in the Diamond v. Chakrabarty case ruled that genetically altered life could be patented

In short, I just find the half-hearted use of science odd.
 

hej

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You can say that Blade Runner is unscientific, but you cannot fault the movie for being so, when you have failed to prove that the filmmakers had any intention to deliver a movie that was scientifically accurate.

So I must reiterate: Blade Runner is not about Earth science or science in general, and it is not a scientific movie or a movie trying to depict, teach or criticise scientific truths. Therefore, while you're free to dislike it for what it is, it is unreasonable to isolate its representation of science as non factual when nothing else in the film adheres to a factual representation of our world.

I must not have made myself clear. Please, forgive me.

I am specifically referring to a singular exchange that begins with true science and then inexplicably abandons it.

If a movie invokes real, defensible science in an explanation, and if science can continue to apply, I see no reason to descend into baloney.

If you think that welding science and nonsense to explain phenomena is more interesting than actual, applicable science, I can kind of understand. I just find starting out with real science and then veering into silliness -- in just that one dialogue of the movie -- to be very odd.
 

hej

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I'm with @Brian G Turner on this: we need explicit examples of what you mean.



I know I don't remember the scenes verbatim; however I don't recall ever being pulled out of the story by bad, psuedo, or non-existent science, though I might be inclined to believe that there may have been a veering off in some direction because the relationship between the story and science is such that it demanded some other human aspects rather than the stale science to bring across the plot points.

Even in PKD's original story the character aspect of the story was more predominant than the science.

I have one, and only one, example to which I refer.

It occurs when Tyrell is explaining to Roy the process that necessitates his early demise, iirc.

I don't remember the scenes verbatim either. I do have a vivid recollection of thinking, "OK. Yeah. Uh-hunh. Wait. What the heck?"

I do acknowledge that for the preponderance of viewers, i.e. those not versed in the scientific fields, my point is unimportant.

I just wanted to see if I have any company in my discomfort at the scene I describe in my second sentence above.

My hunch is, increasingly, no. :)
 

Lumens

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Similar things happen in other scifi all the time. Star Trek Discovery introduces a theme about there being no difference in physics and biology on a quantum level, which is fine. But it then goes of on a really weird tangent, scientifically.

There are a lot of other problems in the original Bladerunner, like the impossible skyscrapers, or the fact that Deckard goes up a few flights of stairs and ends up on the roof high above street level. Not to mention the flying cars. Etc, etc. It is still one of my all time favourite movies though. Amazing atmosphere!
 

hej

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Similar things happen in other scifi all the time. Star Trek Discovery introduces a theme about there being no difference in physics and biology on a quantum level, which is fine. But it then goes of on a really weird tangent, scientifically.

There are a lot of other problems in the original Bladerunner, like the impossible skyscrapers, or the fact that Deckard goes up a few flights of stairs and ends up on the roof high above street level. Not to mention the flying cars. Etc, etc. It is still one of my all time favourite movies though. Amazing atmosphere!

Yeah, I noticed to a certain degree, but I found the Bladerunner example glaring because it begins with real science.

I certainly can enjoy the fiction of science fiction. I have no problem suspending my belief when I see something fantastic -- like the flying cars. I am on certainly on the same page with you about the ambience!

It still knocks my socks off.
 

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Most of Star Trek is like that. It is well known for it and they coined a word for it, "technobabble." Do you really think that Heisenberg Compensators on the Transporters aren't "veering into silliness," or any of the physics of Warp Drive? How can Klingons and Humans reproduce together exactly? (Actually, please, I don't want to know!) So much else, the list is huge!
 

tinkerdan

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It almost sounds like you object to them not being nostalgic enough.
What I mean is it's a lot like watching a fast car movie and being disappointed that the dialogue missed mentioning::

François Isaac de Rivaz
Siegfried Marcus
Nikolaus Otto.
Rudolf Diesel.
Christian Friedrich Schönbein
Gaston Planté,
Karl Benz

That would be so missing the point leaving all them out of the story.
 

hej

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Most of Star Trek is like that. It is well known for it and they coined a word for it, "technobabble." Do you really think that Heisenberg Compensators on the Transporters aren't "veering into silliness,"

Thank you for reminding me of that word.

I have failed to make myself clear with my posts.

I am referring to one exchange which begins with real science and ends with technobabble.

I am mostly familiar with TOS. I do not recall any such fusion there.

I don't have a truck with technobabble. I may not take issue with appending it to real science when the science reaches its limits. I do have a problem with segueing into technobabble from science when the science still works and applies.

I guess it's just me.
 

hej

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It almost sounds like you object to them not being nostalgic enough.
What I mean is it's a lot like watching a fast car movie and being disappointed that the dialogue missed mentioning::

François Isaac de Rivaz
Siegfried Marcus
Nikolaus Otto.
Rudolf Diesel.
Christian Friedrich Schönbein
Gaston Planté,
Karl Benz

That would be so missing the point leaving all them out of the story.

I'm really having a problem expressing myself clearly, I see. I ask for your patience.

I prefer to avoid analogies, but out of respect, I will paraphrase you with what I am trying to convey.

It's a lost like watch a fast car movie and being disappointed that the dialogue begins with factual information about old cars and their workings and then inexplicably adds marques that never existed and mechanical processes that do not make sense.

I hope the distinction is clear.

Alas, that's the best I can do here.
 

Brian G Turner

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Don't sweat it @hej - I suspect the writers just didn't know enough about biology to confidently add any specifics. However, the real danger is that if they had tried, the information would have become outdated - certainly ideas about epigenetics appear to have repeatedly changed, and significantly so, over the past few decades, to the point where it's no longer seen as an addendum to an established field (genetics) but instead an embryonic new science in its own right. :)
 

Lumens

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For me, it is a question of good storytelling. I do not have professional expertise in any area of science, so it's easy for me to suspend my disbelief at an advanced level of dialogue. However, if there are other problems, like huge plot holes, bad acting, or lazy writing and they all build up, I will lose my interest - especially if the science is terrible too. Things that don't usually bother me are details like lines of dialogue or visual effects glitches for example.

If I were an expert, on the other hand, that might not be the case, so I can understand it when people squirm at their area of expertise being misrepresented in scifi.
 

tinkerdan

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Ah--Well--my writing is full of inexplicable science.

It's a lost like watch a fast car movie and being disappointed that the dialogue begins with factual information about old cars and their workings and then inexplicably adds marques that never existed and mechanical processes that do not make sense.

In fact my favorite critic liked the story and the character and thought the science did not overwhelm the story and that was a good thing since it was inexplicable anyway.

I've on and off toyed with the idea of naming my third book Inexplicable Science; but my wife keeps nixing the notion and thought that that critic was being a bit egregious.

Good future science looks like magic and I would expect it to seem inexplicable to the average person and even defy the notions of many a theoretical science maven. So I guess I succeeded.
 

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