The Mad Scientists Strike Again


I admit it - I am secretly a horror film fan. It's a childhood habit I never grew out of, like macaroni and cheese and Disney World. This past weekend, when my brother was in town (the only person who will still watch these with me), we spent two of our hours together in The Mist, a Stephen King movie from 2007.

It was terrible. This is probably no surprise to any of you who actually remember its release. But, I found it enjoyable (at least harmless) enough until we found out why those giant alien bugs were tromping around in the mist - a team of misguided, fame-hungry scientists working for the military had opened a portal to another dimension, allowing these monsters to pass through and annihilate our planet.

I get it - this is not the first time scientists have been portrayed as mad, or dangerous, in American cinema. It happens all the time. Artistic license is artistic license. What got me was the speech delivered by the town's religious zealot, who was trying to convince the survivors of the attack (hiding out in a grocery store together) that this disaster was sent down on them from above because science had gotten too greedy. Then she starts demanding sacrifices. Yikes.

I don't really think that people subscribe to this "science is evil" mentality, especially to the extent it is portrayed in the film. That's not my issue. But, I do think that science gets a bad wrap a lot of the time, often because all the facts surrounding an issue aren't fully understood. On the other hand, I also understand that there has been a lot about scientific research, both in the past and present, that one could find troubling, depending on your personal and religious beliefs. The recent headlines about "designer babies" come to mind as one example.

Above all (and my point finally is),  I think it's important to remember that a lot of what we take for granted now is due to science and the people who move it forward, often pushing the boundaries of their times. What would our world look like today without vaccines, or penicillin? MRI's, electricity, even plastics? Every day, scientific research has the potential to fundamentally change our lives, from discovering new ways to cure or prevent disease, to developing alternative energy solutions that help us put our planet back on a better track. Not so much opening the door to creatures from other dimensions - probably not a priority.


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