Dark and Deep

Just rented Dark Matter from Blockbuster (who I am in the process , for reasons to tedious to relate, of trading in for NetFlix). I don’t remember this movie ever making it to the theaters, unusual for something with Meryl Streep in the cast. Full of interesting ideas, I thought, maybe not as adroitly or artistically handled as they could have been.

One issue was the cultural collision between Chinese exchange students and American social  institutions. Another was the subtle corruption resulting from intellectual vanity and the academic groupthink that can apparently infect even the hardest of sciences, in this case: theoretical physics and cosmology. I have some direct experience with both phenomena, enough to overlook the film’s overwrought ending and take its points seriously.

The science in the movie includes several allusions to computer modeling. It’s hard not to think of the heavy reliance on such modeling by the Anthropogenic Global Warming crowd. Also, from both sides of that issue, the accusations of bad data, sloppy methodology, dubious motivation, and professional cowardice.

Now, I’m no scientist; for what it’s worth, my own primitive thinking on global warming can be found some place in here. I’ve always been casually interested, however, in groupthink, and I’m always on the lookout for investigations of the semi-conscious calculations and the cascading micro-decisions that go into it. Here’s one such article. Its analysis is of history department politics but, if Dark Matter is close to the truth, the same deep dynamics are at work in the sciences.

Finally, despite some interesting strengths, this is not a first-class movie. Why did Meryl Streep make it? It can’t be to show off her tai-chi… which, ask me, was pretty bad.

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One response to “Dark and Deep

  1. All of the characters were VERY believable, which saved the film. I thought Meryl Streep did a very decent job of performing her “cloud hands” in T’ai Chi. I’m not sure what the connection was in the end when she has some psychic experience of pending calamity, though. Also, the pending storm clouds gathering, mentioned earlier in the film in a comic translation. I found the connection between the “wild west” solution (shoot ’em up) and the cultural understanding of our western Amercian values. And our American “civilization” being a few hundred years old, compared to Chinese civilization of five to six thousand years old.

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