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The West Wing November 6, 2005

Posted by ayasawada in Science, TV.

This week’s episode of The West Wing did an admirable job of science communication. It started with a few lines on the use of animals to sniff out landmines before launching into the main topic of debate: alternatives to fossil fuels. Josh (Bradley Whitford) held a meeting to discuss the alternatives. It was nice to see a scientific issue taking one of the main themes for the episode, although admittedly each theme can only bag maybe 10mins of airtime, tops, throughout the episode. Being a political show, this was obviously all linked in to policy on fuel prices, economics and history – but it did an excellent job of inserting the science around the politics of interest. Each of the lobbies (solar, hydrogen, ethanol, wind) gave their pitches using simple diagrams and the short dialogue got the main arguements across through genuine conversation rather than forced rhetoric. Josh represented the viewer and was suitably perplexed and annoyed at the inability of any of the methods to be up to scratch. But as President Bartlett said at the end, “If we wait for the alternatives to be perfect, it’ll be too late”.



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