Films Conscript Interesting Life-Styles to Serve a Plot – or about Humane Scientists and Sciences As the Great Adventure of Our Time
Using a database with more than 600 films and scripts from 1925 to 2015 from a wide variety of genres (action, science-fiction, comedy etc.) topic modeling was applied to meta-analyze the social knowledge about science, scientists and universities in films, to discover which topics exist in these films, how these topics are connected and how these topics change over time. For instance, we find that more stereotypes than „power maniacs and unethical geniuses“ (Weingart et al. 2003) are used to portray scientists in films. Scientists are important to generate key actors (e.g. bio-engineer ‚Captain America‘), explore new worlds (e.g. ‚Interstellar‘), discuss ethical issues beyond the sciences (e.g. ‚Manhattan Project‘), and are funny guys (e.g. ‘Flubber’).
Topic modeling will be complemented by a qualitative content analysis. An in-depth analysis of typical examples of film scenes will be used to combine the text and visual analysis. The presentation will also reflect on the ambiguity expressed in the title – consisting of three quotes from Crichton (1999) in Science – and be concluded by discussing the limitations of this methodological triangulation to analyzing and interpreting films from a sociological perspective.