Misapplications of Mad Science
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Tom's friend Bill has a device that will totally alter your body. Halloween is the perfect time to test it, but mix in a thunderstorm and you get an unexpected misapplication of mad science. It and other stories can be found in the collection "Variations. Create Widget. Fantastic Four : Reed Richards and Doctor Doom can be viewed as symbolizing technology's potential for good or evil, depending on who is wielding it and for what purpose. Reed's a perfect example, as he's often portrayed as the most cold and calculating of the Fantastic Four.
For instance, during the superhero civil war , he designed an extradimensional prison camp to hold his fellow superheroes because cold logic told him that forced superhuman registration was the only way to avoid an Armageddon-level disaster. None of the less scientifically-minded members of the team could stand to be a part of it, and Sue - the conscience of the team - eventually convinced him that it was better to essentially be nice and hope for the best than to be mean for a good reason.
Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog originally averted this in the same fashion as SatAM , from which it derived most of its cast. However, the series started to sink into this as early as Knuckles' first mini-series, with his race's flip-flopping stance on how to view science It's evil, it must be destroyed!
No, wait, only certain things is evil! No, wait, it's all evil! No, wait, it's evil unless we're the ones with it! And science also makes Gordon Freeman tricked and live and strong and big.
However what the fan fiction calls "science" is debatable, since in many cases, it is referred to as a tangible object. In Act I of the Legends of Equestria continuity, the main villain is an industrialist who uses his talents to invent new forms of munitions and weaponry. He also tries to murder Celestia, Luna, all their friends, and about half the population of Equestria to get on the throne.
After these events, Celestia goes so far as to explicitly declare that technology is evil, and strictly bans its proliferation. Any pro-Equestria Conversion Bureau stories , particularly the ones by the very divisive author Chatoyance, have the ponies declare technology evil and the reason why Humans Are the Real Monsters. It also drove him mad and turned him into a Mewtwo, which didn't help either. Films — Animation. The main conflict presented in Steamboy is that though scientists try to help the world there will either be people who want to use it for profit or people who want use it for war.
The protagonist's father is under the belief that science can save the world, the grandfather believes he is going too far, and the protagonist is neutral and just wants to make sure London doesn't get destroyed. In the end, though, the moral of the story feels more like "science can be bad or good depending on how it's used. Then there's Ray's numerous clever uses of the Steamball , like powering flying machines.
At the very least, Steamboy manages to avoid being Anvilicious by grace of sheer ambiguity. Films — Live-Action. The original The Fly , contrary to popular belief, wasn't so much this trope as 'Science must not be approached with carelessness'. It even compares it to a 'great adventure'. In David Cronenberg 's remake , this motif is absent altogether: just because it went disastrously wrong once doesn't mean that teleportation is irredeemably evil.
Though the original still features the scientist destroying the machine at the end, rather than seeing that it works fine if people aren't careless like he was. Completely turned around by Darkman , who, admittedly, was hideously deformed in a Freak Lab Accident , but the accident in question was caused by The Mafia. When things are going bad, he reminds himself, "I'm a scientist! McCabe initially justifies creating the rampaging super intelligent omnivorous bats with the words "I'm a scientist! That's what we do!
No one finds this explanation even the slightest bit strange. Godzilla : Godzilla vs. Destoroyah retroactively questions the use of the Oxygen Destroyer by revealing it led to flesh-eating microbes that can strip organic matter immersed in water in seconds. These evolve into car-sized monsters spewing beams that disintegrate materials that possess oxygen molecules. And finally, these combine into, quite naturally, a flying Kaiju monster with a beam weapon that can kick Godzilla's ass. The monster verges on raising the radiation levels of the entire planet beyond what life could survive.
It also questions whether the doctor's sacrifice was actually heroic as the Oxygen Destroyer was, compared to other methods, less likely to destroy cities or attempt to exterminate the human race. Played straight in Godzilla V Biollante in which genetic engineering causes the birth of a giant Godzilla-Rose hybrid monster Biollante with a human female soul.
On the other hand, the scientists creating the Anti-Nuclear Bacteria is an aversion since it actually is one of the few things that can stop Godzilla, despite the hero's fear that it will create another monster. Generally played straight with almost any Godzilla movie that explains the eponymous monster's origins or his reason for attacking.
Most often he is the result of the testing of nuclear weapons, which is also the source of his hatred of humankind. Event Horizon. At one point the inventor of the gravity warp drive which turns out to be a pretty evil warp drive proclaims: "Captain, there's no danger It's contained behind three magnetic fields, it's perfectly safe!
Joe: The Rise of Cobra nanotechnology is the primary villain, both as gray-goo-inducing nanite warheads and as nanite injections that create superhuman flunkies for Cobra. There are many scientists involved in Cobra, and apparently, scientists can't be trusted: Rex switches sides because they have nanotechnology.
The Time Machine Near the start of the movie, the protagonist's friend asks him whether humanity's progress will ever go too far; the protagonist replies, "no such thing. Earlier, when the protagonist returned to the past to try and save his girlfriend, she was killed by a malfunctioning automobile just as the protagonist stopped being fascinated with it because it was "just a machine," and not worth taking his attention off of his love.
In the distant future, the Eloi are peaceful, good people with very primitive technology; the evil, ugly Morlocks have an industrial society Beneath the Earth. They also have a Big Bad with a giant brain who is especially good at engineering, and at being evil.
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And in the climax of the movie, the protagonist destroys the industrial Morlocks — by blowing up his machine in their lair commenting on its loss with, again, "it's just a machine". The only positive portrayal science or technology get in the film is with the generally helpful holographic librarian who somehow survives hundreds of thousands of years and is shown reading books to children at the end.
But his main function is to keep memories of the past and, presumably, its follies alive, not to represent or aid progress. The version doesn't go this far, having more of an anti-war message. Essentially, the film's message is "science is bad when it's being used to build bigger and more terrible weapons, but it's good when it's being used for peaceful, idealistic purposes like inventing time machines" — which makes sense when you consider the movie was made at the height of the Cold War arms race.
Carrington in The Thing from Another World is a complete moron who continues to insist in the face of increasingly overwhelming evidence that the alien the base is dealing with is an intelligent and peaceful being, and repeatedly endangers everyone's lives trying to communicate with it. In Rocky IV the cold, emotionless Russian boxer Ivan Drago is shown training in a cartoonishly high-tech facility that measures his every exertion while government technicians look on, meanwhile virtuous American Rocky trains on a farm by cutting down trees, lifting bales of hay, and running with a yoke on his shoulders.
Guess who wins. Also a case of Science Marches On , as it turns out the techniques used there are not as effective as traditional training. The plot is as follows: "Oh noes! Science Is Bad and inevitably results in giant insects! Explosions are the only thing that can rectify the wages of man's hubris! In order to combat an epidemic that's killing the world's children, scientists create a strain of mutant cockroach. Unfortunately, years after they're released and successfully end the epidemic these cockroaches grow to be about six feet tall and able to mimic and eat humans.
Cue the scientists babbling nonsense lines like "We changed their DNA, we don't know what we did! The head of the group uses the first brain uploading experiment which involved a monkey on why brain uploading is evil. Lead researcher Susan has genetically modified mako sharks in order to increase their brain mass to harvest more protein, and the sharks get bigger and smarter and start killing everyone when they get into the base. It also takes another common position in this particular sub-genre, which essentially boils down to: Well, since the monsters created by science are chasing us right now , every part of the research was bad in the first place.
Screw those Alzheimer's patients!
Bonus points for the two non-science people being the only survivors. In Perfect Creature , this view is held by Brotherhood , the theocratic vampire government who had outlawed genetic research, regarding it as a godless, abominable evil. They withheld its progress to prevent humans from figuring out where vampires come from and how to prevent Brothers from being born and gaining independence from them.
It turns out that the Brothers have been misusing science to create more of their kind and started the events of the story when the leading scientist got infected with a virus and went insane. King Cobra : Seth was intentionally designed to be a hyper-aggressive killing machine. The guy responsible should have stuck with lab rats instead of his personal snake demon project from hell.
The American folk tale of John Henry tells of the man's victory in a hammerin' race against a steam-powered hammer. He wins, but the effort kills him. He dies with the old-fashioned hammer still in his hand. In the first two books of the Divergent series, most of the bad guys come from the Erudite faction, the faction for scientists and knowledge-seekers. Many of the Erudite characters that we see are villainous even Caleb turns out to be a traitor.
Most of the bad things that happen in Divergent and Insurgent e. Even the author admits her book's anti-intellectual slant, though she has rightly pointed out that her portrayal of the Erudite became more nuanced, and even positive as the series went on. The rulers are tyrants and chauvinists who respect only science, but it has made them incompetent rulers ; while they are fond of mathematics, astronomy, music and technology, they fail to make practical use of their knowledge.
For instance, buildings in Laputa are poorly built and the clothing doesn't fit because they take measurements with instruments such as quadrants and a compass rather than with tape measures. Their physical conditions have degenerated too , depicted as becoming so lost in thought that they do not move unless struck by a "bladder", many of their heads have become stuck reclined to one side, and they often suffer from strabismus: one eye turns inward and the other looks up "to the zenith".
They don't even know that their wives are adulterers who are using their husbands' lack of attention to carry on affairs with the more loving servants. Even worse, they've had a negative effect on their subjects. Not only are Lagado and Balnibarbi poverty-stricken, the governor of the former visited Laputa once, and was inspired to build the Academy of Projectors, where completely worthless projects are endlessly worked on. Ironically, the governor of Balnibarbi is likely the most lucid man in the chapter, one of the few characters Gulliver meets with any common sense.
In Anne McCaffrey 's Pern novels, some of the natives regard the newly rediscovered supercomputer as evil and try to destroy or discredit it, either through superstition or fear of change. The planet was originally settled by people who only wanted to leave their dependence on technology behind, not to form a Luddite civilization. In time this meant they lost all but the most basic stuff needed for survival, and because of this they suffered. It was eventually returning to the technological state which saved them, when they found AI which gave them access to all the tech the colonists planned on having, but lost.
Saruman even mentions his slogan in book two: " Knowledge, Rule, Order! Saruman is clearly meant to be a Faustian figure, entering a deal with the devil for greater knowledge. Gandalf: He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom. Stu: [of Mother Abigail ] Well, it's obvious she's some sort of magnet. Glen: So I suppose we start building the whole sorry mess up again Live-Action TV. Black Mirror , naturally. It's an anthology series that explores the ambiguity and potential drawbacks of new technology and how they can affect society in an unhealthy way, though it primarily focuses on New Media Are Evil , this trope comes up sometimes as well.
This technology ends up ruining a man's relationship with his partner. She eventually realises that the replica is not a replacement for her lover and it prevents her from grieving and moving on in a healthy way.
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When the game malfunctions however, the horror graduates past cheap Jump Scares and gets too real, and too personal. Except the aliens are not aliens, they're human undesirables and the technology simply makes the soldiers see them as monsters. Any scientific research is bad in that show.
Example: One episode features a drug which can heal fatal gunshot wounds in moments. However, it makes the user rather cranky for a certain period of time. Various ERs could probably get around that by tranquilizing the patients for a while! A recurring theme in The Outer Limits It is the basis for the plot of many though not all of its episodes. A prominent episode, "Final Appeal" involves a trial in the 20 Minutes into the Future United States, which has forsaken technology and banned teaching science under the penalty of death.
A 20th century scientist develops Time Travel and goes to the future only to be arrested for breaking the ban. She goes before the Supreme Court and argues to repeal the ban, as a plague will wipe out most of humanity in the near future if technological research is not restarted. Another time traveler arrives to argue for the opposite, as humanity's expansion to the stars will eventually cause us to piss off an advanced alien race and lead to our destruction.
In the end, they send the second time traveler to the past and agree to repeal the ban, only for the second guy's fusion bomb to activate and wipe out Washington, DC. Joss Whedon has said the idea behind the Initiative from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was to create a conflict between science and magic, and when that happens, magic eventually kicks science's ass.
The Initiative goes on recon to study the habits of vampires and captures them so they can do further tests, all to better understand how they work and how they can best be contained. Buffy just stakes 'em. Guess which works better? Star Trek , despite being the best-known Speculative Fiction series, often dipped its toe into this trope. Worked on a sort of sliding scale, where the level of science the Federation had at that particular point in the episode was the exact right amount and trying to advance beyond that was just asking for the technological equivalent of not being able to get away with a damn thing.
Offscreen advance of science: good. Onscreen advance of science: bad. The Original Series episode which most directly addresses this is "The Way to Eden" the infamous "space hippie" one. Sevrin's followers want to abandon technology and return to a pastoral existence. Between his Vulcan half's admiration for their ahem, technical!
He's deeply disappointed when their leader turns out to be nuts.
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Voyager's take on the Q is interesting. TNG had previously established that the Q believed humans might one day develop into a civilization comparable to themselves and were not very pleased about it ; yet, in Voyager , most of the all-but-omnipotent Q are shown to be bored half out of their minds, because life offers no challenges any more. In TOS, Bunny-Ears Lawyer Sam Cogley's speech in " Court Martial " about liking his book collection better than his computer, even though he admits it can display any of their contents instantly. The Enterprise is testing a brand-new computer that could automate starships completely, making crews and captains all but obsolete.
Is a Crapshoot , things go south fast, and our heroes must pull the plug and save the day, but not before the sorrowful moments where Kirk faces the thought he may become obsolete. The scientist who designed the computer also turns out to be insane at the end, just to drive the point home. In the DS9 episode "Paradise," the neo-Luddite colonist Alixus deliberately stranded her colony ship and used a duonetic field to disable electromagnetic technology, forcing them all to live as Space Amish.
Her influence over her fellow colonists was so great that even after Sisko and O'Brien disabled the field generator and revealed that she had stranded them there deliberately, many of the colonists wanted to continue living the way she had preached or very near to it, perhaps making exceptions for medical technology. The episode in many ways was a deconstruction of this trope.
None of the characters entirely disagree with or refute her claims that there is value in doing things the hard way rather than living comfortable lives with "modern" Federation technology. Instead, they condemn her actions and methods for forcing this lifestyle on others as deplorable: deliberately stranding the colonists instead of recruiting like-minded volunteers , deceitfully sabotaging any technology, invoking corporal punishment solitary confinement in a hot-box for any violation of her rules , and withholding life-saving medical technologies resulting in unnecessary suffering and many deaths.
This voluntary group is portrayed as everything good about the Noble Savage archetype, peacefully coexisting with their technology embracing neighbors and even trading with them for what few necessities they require beyond their own capability to produce. Fringe seems to take a stance of science being both bad and good, since its used to both cause and help solve the Freaky Mystery of the Week! The Grey and Gray Morality of the show seems to imply that science can accomplish good things, but at the cost of other good things, and the scientist's mileage may vary as to whether the accomplishments are worth the cost.
This is especially obvious when comparing and contrasting Walter and Walternate; each crosses lines that the other will not. For example, Walter is willing to experiment on children while Walternate is not , but Walternate is willing to trap people alive in amber while Walter is not. The Stargate Atlantis episode "Trinity," wherein McKay finds an abandoned Ancient experiment to produce limitless energy, it's repeatedly suggested that he is getting in over his head The Ancients did not complete the program, and it went rather wrong.
Despite constant protestations that this is a field they are simply not ready for, McKay continues. In the end he ends up destroying about five-sixths of a solar system it's not an exact science.
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While the episode plays the aesop straight, a later episode has a solution to the problems from the first time, and the attempt is assisted by an Asgard, the most technologically advanced race who will talk with humanity. CSI: NY : One episode features an unethical genetics lab who are responsible for a death in their experiments. When first showing off their lab, the cops think it's weird, and the main character says that progress is great, "but should've stopped. However, it does at times depict the potential good that can be done with stem cells, genetic engineering and the like.
Most of Battlestar Galactica avoids this, but the finale takes a great big swerve into Writer on Board territory. First, everybody decides to chuck their technology — including, one assumes, their various medical advances — and revert to hunter-gatherer barbarism in the hopes that their descendants will do better.
Have fun rediscovering penicillin a couple hundred thousand years in the future, humanity! Second, Ron Moore confirms that, after a thoughtful examination of how difficult it is to break the cycle of revenge, he chucked the metaphor and explained that he's scared of our new Japanese robot overlords. Stephen often says things like "I'm no fan of science," but seemed entirely keen on one specific form when hearing about a superlaser that concentrated laser beams into a small area to produce the temperatures and pressures of a star: Stephen : We have our own Death Star!
The entire album by the metal opera group Ayreon. See the song "Unnatural Selection" for a particularly anvilicious example. System of a Down 's "Science" from the album Toxicity is entirely devoted to explaining in detail how Science Is Bad and has "failed us," as "spirit moves through all things. Styx 's album Kilroy Was Here includes some brief diatribes, not against science per se, but against technology: The problem's plain to see Too much technology Machines to rule our lives Machines dehumanize.
Sometimes I wonder what it is all about There's lots of leisure time to sit and work it out There's a TV show I've got to see Good, good, good, good, good, good technology Good technology. Elle se fout du progres mais souhaite la progression it cares not of progress but wishes the progression. De tous les processus qui menent a l'elimination of all processes that lead to elimination.
I think there's going to be a backlash against technology. You know, I don't know what's gonna cause it. I hope it won't be any environmental disaster shit, you know, for sure for my kids that wanna live a better life You know sometimes it's good just to go in the woods and just go hiking and get back in touch with yourself and nature. You know, then you come back here and you realize that this is like, better. Ludicious all this emphasis on technology and 50 different internet devices and shit and internet devices you can put in your pocket. Sometimes I feel threatened by it but you know, that's the future and I am a man of the past.
I'm a low-tech man in a high-tech world there ain't shit I can do about it You know, what's going on we can't use our brains: It's being a person. You know it's being a fucking person man! Subverted in a strange and depressing sort of way by Arch Oboler's Lights Out radio short "Chicken Heart" as made famous by Bill Cosby ; the scientist responsible for creating the spreading, cancerous blob of chicken muscle knows exactly how to stop the monster, but he can't get the authorities to drop the hammer in time or with enough force.
If only they'd known about the monster-retardant properties of Jell-O. Ink City has attracted plenty of scientists, including Heloise , Dr. Chipotle Jr. There are also characters who want to use science to analyze and control the unpredictable residents, like Trevor. Mew believes that all science is inherently evil, and that scientists are soulless monsters. Tabletop Games. Warhammer 40, has a rather odd relationship with this trope. On one hand, anything resembling actual science is Strongly Frowned Upon by the setting's closest equivalent, the Tech Priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
The setting also happens to be home to examples of every category on the Scale of Scientific Sins. On the other hand, Cybernetics Eat Your Soul and No Transhumanism Allowed aren't in effect for a sizable portion of the setting, presumably due to the sheer Coolness of cybernetics superseding the normally all-pervasive Rule of Grimdark. Another subversion, considering that the race that is arguably the closest to being the "Good Guys" or, all things considered, "least evil" of the setting, the Tau, are the only ones who embrace science and technological advancement.
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Magic: The Gathering : Yawgmoth is portrayed as a rational-minded character who relies only on scientific methods, while others rely on not better defined "magic". He's the Big Bad.