What do Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, Oprah and Kate Moss have in common? They’re all “illiterate” when it comes to science, says this year’s Celebrities and Science Review 2008, an annual roundup prepared by an independent charitable trust in the UK called Sense About Science.
Where’d they go wrong? According to an article in the Independent, Obama blamed the skyrocketing autism rate on vaccines, but the research has failed to substantiate any such link; Palin dismissed the importance of fruit fly studies in France neglecting to realize that the insects share roughly half their genes with humans; and Oprah and Moss both publicly claimed that you can detox your body with the right diet, a fact that is “scientifically unsupportable.”
All of the above are blunders, but pale in comparison to the scientific leaps of faith that Hollywood regularly asks us to take in order to swallow their movies (there’s a ceremony called the PRISM Awards that’s dedicated to “scientifically-accurate entertainment” across all categories — it’s that rare). Five of our favorite from the past year after the jump; leave any we missed in the comments.
1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Brad Pitt reverse ages and then fathers a perfectly normal child. Even if we could swallow that plotline, throughout the second half of the film Pitt looks better than any 45-year-old man has the right to — even with the help of CGI.
2. Cloverfield – A weird alien monster drops from the sky, lands near Coney Island, and eventually emerges to take over New York City. All of the best action is captured by one guy who refuses to put down his handheld camera and run for his life. Hasn’t he heard of fight or flight? Not possible.
3. Teeth – If you missed this campy horror flick about a small town girl dealing with a case of vagina dentata, do yourself a favor and rent the DVD. It’s worth it just to see her bite off a sleazy gynecologist’s arm.
4. Penelope – Christina Ricci is cursed with a pig’s nose that will magically disappear once she finds a man who truly loves her. Most people require plastic surgery, not romance, to remedy bad genetics.
5. Baby Mama – Tina Fey plays a successful career woman who can’t get pregnant, so she hires a woman (Amy Poehler) to act as her surrogate. Poehler is secretly carrying her own baby, but it all turns out OK when Fey mysteriously gets knocked up by the friendly owner of a local juice shop (Greg Kinnear).