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NASA Names Best & Worst Sci-Fi Movies of All Time 610

mvar writes "Working through the year-end best/worst movie lists can be a feat of Olympic proportions, but there's one list which is so damn cool you'll definitely want to give it a whirl. NASA and the Science and Entertainment Exchange have compiled a list of the 'least plausible science fiction movies ever made,' and they ranked the disastrous (in more ways than one) 2012 as the most 'absurd' sci-fi flick of all time."


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NASA Names Best & Worst Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

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  • by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @12:21PM (#34754772) Homepage Journal
    The list of worst sci-fi movies carries mostly expected candidates, but I found these two pieces from the article interesting:

    But not all sci-fi films were mocked by NASA experts, they did agree to praise 1982s Blade Runner, starring Harrison Ford. The movie which they said “convincingly portrayed a futuristic Los Angeles now only eight years away”

    And the most “realistic” sci-fi film according to NASA, goes to 1997s Gattaca, starring Ethan Hawke, Jude Law and Uma Thurman. The movie was about “a genetically inferior man assumes the identity of a superior one in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel.”

    It looks like the smart guys at NASA agree with many of us 'dotters that the future is going to be a bleak, dystopian police state where the richer get richer and the poor eat noodles off the street. Ah well, at least we get Harrison Ford and glowing umbrellas right?

  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @12:30PM (#34754872) Journal

    I hate to break it to you, but (A) they didn't judge best or worst, but most absurd as science goes, and (B) they do have people qualified in several branches of science and technology. In fact, I'd expect that if anyone is qualified to judge woowoo doomsday scenarios based on stellar alignments and mysterious radiations from the galaxy, it would be NASA. That's, you know, the kinda thing they _are_ supposed to do: know what's happening up there.

    Of course, don't tell that to the homeschooled idiots who'd rather wait for a "rapture" that kept being sold as any day now for 2000 years straight and never happened, than fix the real problems on Earth in the meantime. And who'll even take a non-existent Mayan prophecy as support for their Bible delusions. Or to the gang who just wants to believe any non-scientific idiocy, presumably because it makes them feel less bad about sleeping through Physics class high-school.

  • Re:I liked 2012 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @12:54PM (#34755196)

    I think you're missing the point. Yes, it is 2 hours worth of escapism, but the entire premise is flawed and for anyone with even a modicum of science acumen, this tends to ruin the movie. If your premise is that an alien race is invading earth, then you're free to make up all sorts of technology and resulting mayhem. Who knows what an lien race might look like, what advanced tech they may have or what their mood or motives are? As a writer, you pretty much have a free hand. But if your movie's premise is the end of the world (2012), caused by scientifically explainable phenomenon, then you had better stick pretty close to what's possible, otherwise anyone with half a brain will have difficulty suspending their disbelief.

  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:28PM (#34756320) Journal

    And for those of you wondering, it gets even MORE ridiculous than that.

    One of the main Propogators of Mayanism believes he is the "heir of the legacy of Pacal Votan and the instrument of his prophecy, Telektonon".

    Basically he believes he is a decendant of an Ancient Mayan King, despite not being Mayan himself, and that he is spiritually channelling this doomsday warning to the rest of the world.

    When asked for any phyiscal evidence he'll point to this one stele/stela (which is basically a big rock full of mayan inscriptions) - this particular inscription which is terribly worn that basically says "Something will happen" on that date, the end of the Baktun. It's pretty much impossible to tell what exactly that something is, as the deterioration has taken its toll.

    To really understand it though, it helps to know how the Ancient Mayan culture kind of worked. It's not uncommon for us to glorify figures of the past, like say Lincoln, and it's not odd to find us defining mini eras, like a Golden age. What seperates us from the Mayans is that because the Mayans were so spiritual and ritualistic in their lifestyle (though what ancient society wasn't?) - is that the Mayans liked to project into the future these greats date. Like fundamental Christians who believe in the Rapture and the Earth being engulfed in fires and flames while Jesus saves all the good people. Most fundies haven't gone as far as to say a certain date but in Mayan culture it wasn't uncommon. For example, if they thought at the end of a Katun that such and such God would return, a King might make an inscription about how great he is, just like that God who's coming in a few hundred years.

    Now that you understand the basis of the prophecies, it all starts to seem a bit silly, right? Given that almost every king in Ancient Maya did this practice of "Prophecy" - and that none of them have come true for the past thousand years, it really throws a shadow of doubt over this 2012 end of the world thing. Here's the real kicker though - The Mayans have many prophecies predicting their society lasting long past 2012, I am pretty sure I saw one inscription dated as far ahead as like 12010 or something, (possibly a typo?). And given how most of their way of life was wiped out when the Westerners came, destroying all but a handful of books and a couple dozen cities - its an oddity on how they didn't see that one coming and weren't better prepared for it.

    I mean, there are still people who are of Mayan descendant and they keep their traditions alive, passing it down through generations, trying to live seperate of society, and even they get really annoyed by all this sensationalism about this end of the world prophecy. It's ridiculous.

  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @05:18PM (#34758260) Journal

    Our preacher touched on this just this last Sunday. He said, "I trust science. I believe the Bible." He also said at a time earlier, "Faith can heal, but take your kids to the doctor when they get sick and give them their medicine." Or as a sign I read in front of a church one day, "Trust in God, but lock your car."

    Don't act as if there is a disconnect between science and religion. Only the most ignorant theologians and scientists will tell you that there is. Some of the greatest scientific minds in history have belonged to one religion or another.

  • Re:Money well spent. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by plover ( 150551 ) * on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @06:27PM (#34759174) Homepage Journal

    Sure, we can blame some of that on standards and requirements laid out by the legislatures. "Add this to your 5th grade health class." "Add this to your 7th grade math class." Teachers are spending a lot of time pushing crap that a politician thought was important, not what's actually important. I wouldn't be surprised to find that 10% of classroom time is wasted on political agendas instead of learning. But it's not the entire problem.

    A big part of the problem is refusal to accept discipline as an appropriate path. (Note that discipline does NOT mean corporal punishment.) If little Johnny Trouble is disrupting class again, the rest of them just sit there and read 'Dick and Jane' for the 17th time while the teacher spends an hour trotting him down to the behavioral psychologist's office. Little Johnny is talked at without effect, then put back in the classroom where he then disrupts it for the 18th time. Little Johnny needs to be efficiently removed from the classroom setting without the parent's approval, and without concern for his "feelings", as every other approach rewards his bad behavior. And yes, his teacher should be able to tell the other kids that little Johnny was kicked out because he was being naughty. Stigmatize the offense. It works.

    I'm not blaming little Johnny here. I'm blaming the system for deciding that accommodating little Johnny's every whim is a viable approach to education. If little Johnny has to end up in "special school" for a month to work out his issues, that gives 24 other kids the chance to excel. If Mommy or Daddy feel that little Johnny is being stigmatized by being placed in special school, Mommy or Daddy can hire a specialist to work with little Johnny to figure out his problems and get him cooperating so he can return to the classroom. The schools don't have to abandon him, but they also don't have to keep him slowing down the mainstream.

    School boards have to step up and recognize they must represent the 95% of kids who aren't little Johnny. They also have to stop acting as the supreme court of schoolhouse behavior, and stand up to the whiny parents who think their kid shouldn't have been singled out. "Sorry, ma'am, that's a decision between the teacher and the principal, not us. They were there, we were not. Their decision is final. Your alternative to special school is to move out of our district, and take little Johnny with you. Now if you would please sit down and shut up, we won't send your new district a full transcript of little Johnny's discipline issues. Have a nice day."

    Another big part of the problem is refusal to accept failure as a possible outcome for a child. Instead of moving the class along and leaving little Johnny behind, the entire class is held back to little Johnny's level of non-progress. If little Johnny can't keep up, alter little Johnny's schedule, not the whole class. There can be a standard pace, and it can be set to the pace of the average student. It doesn't have to be hyperaccelerated, but without the anchor of slow students, it will certainly speed up.

    "No child left behind" takes the Garrison Keeler joke of "Lake Woebegone, where all the children are above average" and tries to apply it legislatively, which is absurd. 5% of the children will always be the bottom 5% of the children. So far all it's accomplished is that we've proven that we can't squeeze 5% up into the bell curve without squeezing down the middle 90% to hide them.

  • by toygeek ( 473120 ) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @07:24PM (#34759866) Homepage Journal

    I'd be happy to answer your questions:

    1. a literally true set of statements? (I take it it's not this, because you reject eg rapture)

    Is the Bible 100% literal? No. If it were, then I'd be a fundamentalist young earth creationist. It does have its literal spots, and it does have its symbolic spots (Revelation)

    2. divine statements (whether those statements are true or not, or in Hebrew or otherwise)?

    Yes, I do. Divine statements such as "This is My Son, the beloved, whom I approve" are 100% literal and correct.

    3. helpful guidelines for human life?

    Most definitely. Culture, times, technology have changed drastically. People on the other hand have not, and that's what the Bible focuses on.

    4. a significant history that gives itself meaning?

    Is it a significant history that gives us meaning in life? Yes. But that meaning has more to do with the future than the past. The Bible does explain why the past is important, opening up information on why the world is in the mess it is, but gives hope for future times when all of this will be fixed, back to the way it was supposed to be when God created human kind.

    5. access to a social and culture community of people who also "believe in the Bible"?

    Sure! But for me that is only a very small part of believing in the Bible.

    To clarify a bit more: I've studied the Bible all my life. The religious group I belong to is not stuck on 1600 year old beliefs that are obviously flawed. We do not believe in pre-christian rituals and beliefs that have been integrated into Christendom. We DO believe that there is a sentient being who created us, who has a heavenly realm where he and his other creatures are organized, and that we are a small part of a very large machine. We also don't believe in a God who would create us just to torture us forever if things don't go the way he wants. Who would want to worship that? Not me.

    I'll refrain from saying more because I want to answer your questions, not get preachy. Feel free to pm me via /. if you're further curious.

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith