For many years, Horizon, the UK flagship popular science programme has steadily been dumbing down its output, IMO. Filling, what used to be expert talking heads and demonstrations, packed with knowledge and understanding, with CGI and short cut editing. But the edition I saw on over-population, was a return to the old Horizon tradition. Not a single shred of CGI was to be seen. In fact, the only graph we, the viewer, were asked to take any notice of, was drawn on paper in front of us. The reason this was so, was because the question of over-population is at the very heart of resource depletion, human influenced climate change, insufficient food and water supply, and a host of other issues, that mankind has been at the root of, and will face us in the future, and is quite easy to understand. So good was this programme, because it illustrated the challenges facing mankind, and did it in such an easily accessible and very well explained way, in the best traditions of Horizon, that if you haven't already seen it, I ask you to watch it too. Please stick with it. Whether you have considered this question or not, it is certainly worth an hour of your time.
I've enjoyed aspects of some recent Horizon eps, the one with Chomsky and anything with Marcus Du Sautoy (Maths or 'mystical dualism') are things I've found rather entertaining.
I caught the second half of this. I knew the moment that they started on the resource tracker that the Americans would come out on top with us not so far behind.
Interesting stuff to contemplate and worry about.
I saw a recent 'Horizon' (Destination Mars) that was little more than a 'clip show' - an appalling rehash of previous programmes dealing with various aspects of Mars exploration that was little more than a insult to its audience . Once a flagship science series that could be relied upon to provide an interesting and informative hour of TV has become a mere shadow of its former self , better rename it so that the memory of a once great series is not sullied further .
BBC2 was briefly replaced by Channel 4 as the viewers first choice for quality science programming before Michael Grade ruined that too , now we're left with light weight shows broadcast on minority interest digital channels - for example 'Extreme Engineering' a moderately interesting programme that covers (unlikly) subjects that might once have been seriously examined on Horizon .
Few will want to return to the days of only having four channels available to watch but the decline in technology/science programming on British TV is proof positive that more is not necessarily the same as better .
Last edited by CHAPEL END CHARLIE; 11-12-2009 at 07:04 PM.
I appreciate what you say CEC, and almost entirely agree. In a sense, the present day science and technology revolution has become niched to the point that a proper heavyweight programme will only manage a tiny audience. Which of course, as you know, means that if the programme is dumbed down, then it will possibly generate a wider audience. This was exhibited at its worst IMO, by the so-called science series SPACE, with actor Sam Neill as presenter. It wasn't his fault that the most technical phrase he uttered during the entire series was that a black hole was gravity gone mad. It's as dumbed down as an information series has got, that I have had the misfortune to view, and happily, programmes have got better. But it is still difficult to tell the story of science breakthroughs, or theories, in a way that the average person can understand and be entertained by.
Originally Posted by CHAPEL END CHARLIE
However, the subject of Over-population is a relatively simple one. Too many people on the planet, with depleting resources to sustain them with. Now Horizon could have gone the CGI route, but they didn't. This was an opportunity to interview the real experts, as Horizon used to, of old. And they did. And because we were being informed by people who know, this made the validity of the programme so much more.
Over-population is a hideous subject. It use to be taboo and almost is to this day, but Horizon ventured to talk about it. It would be nice if we did them a favour and actually watched it.
Re the dumbing down of science programming on television , I can see the reasons why commercial television feels the need to appeal to the maximum possible audience but why the (licence fee funded) BBC desires to chase audience numbers in the same manner mystifies me . What exactly is the point of having a public service organisation such as the BBC if it provides exactly the same 'lowest common denominator' programming as every other broadcaster does - for free ?
Originally Posted by St Landrew
The premise that viewers only want childlike CG laden programming that will not overly challenge them ('Walking with Dinosaurs' for instance) shows exactly what the people who control television think of us . These patronising commissioning editors (Tristram's as AA Gill calls them) apparently see the public as little more than a mass of uneducated and not very curious plebs , there to be fobbed off with light-weight rubbish while they sneer at us from behind the scenes presumably . I can only hope and believe they underestimate their audience .
I did manage to 'buck the trend' recently and find a interesting science programme - it was argued that the children of mixed race couples were as a direct result of their diverse inheritance genetically healthier than their same race peers - the very idea of 'racial purity' was fundamentally wrong in principle it would seem . The programme may have flirted with the ever-present danger of Political Correctness but I found it rather convincing in the main .
As for the question of the exponential growth in the Human population this too is an absolutely valid subject for discussion , but rather like Eugenics (Nazi connotations) and Human ethnic variation (potently racist) - it's seen as a tricky issue to raise these days . Few among us I suppose would find a Chinese style authoritarian approach acceptable while doing nothing could (almost certainly will) produce disastrous consequences for the environment - a difficult problem .
We should have more difficult problems raised on television .