Long time readers of ERV know that I have a soft-spot for animated depictions of cellular processes. Yes, they are beautiful (to a fault). Yes they are a neat way to explain complex topics to people. But I love them due to the sheer volume of lulz they provide when Creationists try to do them.
See, scientists use animations for educational purposes.
Creationists use them for misinformation. They present the animations as if they are for realsies video recordings of things going on in cells– “OOOH! Look how PERFECT it all works! Look how PRETTY it all is! IT MUST BE DESIGNED!”, when scientists are careful to point out that animations are simplifications, and reality is kinda a mess.
But Creationists have a problem. As much as they love animations of cellular processes, they lack the basic scientific knowledge and computer animation skill set to create these animations on their own.
So they steal them.
At Dembskis infamous appearance at OU several years ago (he was raeped by undergrads, lol!), he stole an animation from XVIVO/Harvard/HHMI.
The producers of EXPELLED stole the same animation for their movie, as well as from several other sources, but after Dawkins tipped our hand, and they delayed the official release to changed it (the replacement is still hysterical, though).
So I was interested to see an article in the NYT today on ‘Molecular Animation– Where Cinema and Biology Meet‘.
They interview the Harvard group, and tons of scientist-animators from other institutions. Here is a great excerpt:
Gaël McGill, Digizyme’s chief executive, says access to this data is critical to scientific accuracy. “For us the starting point is always the science,” Dr. McGill said. “Do we have data to support the image we’re going to create?”
Indeed, while enthusiasm runs high among those directly involved in the field, others in the scientific community are uncertain about the value of these animations for actual scientific research. While acknowledging the potential to help refine a hypothesis, for example, some scientists say that visualizations can quickly veer into fiction.
“Some animations are clearly more Hollywood than useful display,” says Peter Walter, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of California, San Francisco. “It can become hard to distinguish between what is data and what is fantasy.”
Dr. McGill acknowledges that showing cellular processes can involve a significant dose of conjecture. Animators take liberty with color and space, among other qualities, in order to highlight a particular function or part of the cell. “All the events we are depicting are so small they are below the wavelength of light,” he said.
Contrast that position vs Creationists, who think these animations are real life (or pretend they do in front of an audience).
Cellular animations– help teach science, provide lulz, yeah, I kinda love em