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The Thoughtful Animal

The Thoughtful Animal

Exploring the evolution and architecture of the mind

Putting Science on Screen (A Tale Told In Tweets)

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What responsibilities do filmmakers have in terms of scientific accuracy? Usually, I argue that filmmakers are storytellers first, and while scientific accuracy (or plausibility) can often support a narrative, the first responsibility of the filmmaker is to weave a captivating tale. But what happens when the film (or TV series) in question is overtly scientific in nature?

It might be a straightforward nature documentary like BBC's Planet Earth or National Geographic's Great Migrations, or it could be a docu-drama - a narrative derived from clever editing of thousands of hours of footage of wild animals paired with heart-tugging voiceovers - like March of the Penguins or Disney's Chimpanzee.

In these cases, filmmakers might have a higher obligation to get the science right, which poses a unique science communication challenge.

Yesterday, Cristina Russo wrote a post about some of these issues at the PLoS Blog Sci-Ed, which sparked a twitter conversation, which I've compiled into a storify. Add your own thoughts in the comments below, on twitter or on Google+.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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