Big money, bad science

The title is gruesomely and torturously true of Big Science itself. No explanation needed.

Oddly, the correlation also applies to radio and TV shows about science.

Among discussion-type shows, the elite academic “roundtable” shows and elite quiz shows like Information Please generally spewed old worn-out cliches that had been disproved for many decades. The UFO discussers, distinctly non-elite, got the details of astronomy and physics exactly right. Their speculations may have been right or wrong, but they started from a correct baseline.

Among sci-fi adventure serials, the low-budget radio shows of the ’30s were careful to state all the known facts correctly, and their fantasies were plausible. The same is true of Space Patrol, the long-running cereal/serial in the ’50s. The sets and effects were super-cheap, crude wooden models and badly painted stage flats. The intro shows a rocket launching amid a cloud of smoke, which is obviously coming from a cigarette in an ashtray.

By contrast the higher-budget Rocket Man movie series, rebranded three or four ways, used real locations and real cars and real equipment, with well-done flying effects; but the basic science was wildly wrong and stupid.

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