As I sit here waiting for Al Gore to start speaking, I’d like to note that Scibling Chris Mooney over at the Intersection has really annoyed me. Apparently the fact that I didn’t like the film Sizzle is evidence that I, too, am likely a terrible communicator of science who lacks self-awareness. (Since there is no other possible reason for me to fail to LOVE the film!)

Now, Chris, some scientists who dislike Sizzle may dislike it for that reason – but there are a lot of other reasons to dislike the film, some of which I and other Sciblings have mentioned! When you say,

In my view, what’s so great about Sizzle is the way it asks us to look hard at the insularity of our pro-science community–and the disconnect between the science world and other walks of life, other parts of American culture. In this context, doesn’t the fact that many science bloggers are slamming it–and misunderstanding it–simply validate the film’s central point?

In throwing this idea out there, what I’d hope to encourage is that some of my fellow bloggers consider watching the film again with such thoughts in mind.

I can point to my original review and state that yes, I got that VERY OBVIOUS MESSAGE quite well on first viewing! Watching it again is not going to make the scales fall from my eyes.

Chris is a good guy, so why am I so annoyed? Well, I happen to take offense when my deliberative opinion of a creative work is used as the springboard for generalizations about my intellectual abilities and personality. I haven’t read all the Sciblings’ reviews, but I’m sure many of them also thought carefully about it. We don’t all have to agree to have valid, intelligent bases for our opinions.

I’m just sayin’. . . .


  1. #1 DM
    July 17, 2008


  2. #2 Chris C. Mooney
    July 17, 2008

    Sorry to annoy you. Your review is pretty unique, I think, and doesn’t really fit into the category that I was criticizing. You get a pass ;> In fact, your review isn’t even very negative!

  3. #3 Jon Eccles
    July 17, 2008

    Speaking as a non-scientist who follows stuff out of interest, doesn’t the disconnect between scientists and everyone else mainly happen because you all understand highly complex and difficult stuff to a much deeper level than just about everyone else?

    In order for you to participate more fully in mainstream culture, and given that mainstream culture shows little urge to smarten itself up, wouldn’t you all have to become much, much dumber?

  4. #4 Jessica Palmer
    July 17, 2008

    I don’t know, Chris. My review may be uniquely rambling, perhaps, but I think a number of other reviewers have touched on some of the same points I did. And even so, the fact that I didn’t *detest* the film (largely because I gave it points for good intentions) is irrelevant to my ability to criticize it in a self-aware way.

    Jon – if only that were true. . . sigh. 😉 Maybe I’ll try to believe it, because it’s awfully flattering. . . it can be one of my six impossible things to believe before breakfast today. (though i’m eating breakfast now)

  5. #5 Jon Eccles
    July 17, 2008

    Just to clarify my point, I appear to have omitted the two, arguably quite crucial words “about science”, to follow the words “difficult stuff”.

    You might be brilliant about everything else as well, of course. There’s just no requirement that you should be.

    I think what I was trying in my bumbling way to get at was that people feel able to argue with scientists about science, in a way that they would never for instance argue with their car mechanics about engines. You never hear anyone say that a mechanic has failed to appreciate the holistic dimension of their car, or that they’ve undermined its ability to heal itself.

    Global warming is a scientific issue. If lay people choose not to believe what scientists say, then that’s a measure of their stupidity, not scientists’ personality problems.

  6. #6 Matti K.
    July 22, 2008

    First Chris makes naive generalizations about his fellow Sciencebloggers. When they get offended by such actions, he makes individual disclaimers. Is that the correct way to frame one’s message?

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