Secrets of Pseudoscience

Secrets of Pseudoscience

Who comes up with this crap anyway? Ernie Does.


These days audiences are more sophisticated than ever, and demand a plausible-sounding explanation for the preposterous events that masquerade as a plot. Pseudoscientist Ernie Nelson has been employed by major Hollywood studios, including Marvel, to make utter nonsense seem somehow convincing.

“It’s a difficult job,” he explained. “Most movie executives don’t know anything about pseudoscience. Having to explain to them how a reverse quantum warp drive actually works is not easy, especially when you just made it up on the way from the parking lot to the elevator. A lot of writers forget the reverse — that’s a mistake. Pseudoscience can begin to sound like regular boring science if you don’t reverse it.”

Pseudoscience frequently seems to involve tachyons.

“Audiences love the K sound, and tachyon has that,” explains Nelson. “Negative tachyons are also a good idea. What is a tachyon? I have no idea. It’s whatever you want it to be.”

“At some point, you’ll need a manual override, of course,” he adds.

Nelson explains that we’re all basically just footnoting Star Trek here. “I can’t get no power Captain,” says Scotty. “Well try manual override,” says Kirk. That’s pretty much the climax of every sci-fi, comic book, or superhero film. Will manual override work?

“Yes and no. The engine might get started but where do you go from there? After the words ‘manual override’ or the equivalent are actually spoken on screen, you have at a maximum four more minutes of movie before it begins to dawn on people how absurd it’s all been.”

How does someone become a pseudo-scientist anyway? I asked Nelson, because it does sound like an awesome job, and I noticed he was driving one of the expensive Telsas. Not the cheap one.

“I used to be in craft services, you know, putting out the M&Ms for the people working on the movie,” he explained. “Then one day the writer and the director were stuck on how to make a scene plausible. ‘What about a mutant wormhole,’ I said. That’s how I got my foot in the door.”

What’s a mutant wormhole?

“That’s up to the F/X guys,” he said. “But it’s got to be mutant, wormy, and full of holes — like a Hollywood plot.”

I asked him if he has any scientific training or background other than M&M putting out.

“No, I never liked real science in high school,” he explained. “It always kind of mystified me. I mean, the periodic table? Was Mrs. Peterson having her period when she corrected that test, because she gave me an F.”

For his most recent job, Nelson’s task was to explain how five special gem stones could be employed to make half the world’s population just disappear.

“In the early screenings the audiences weren’t buying it,” he says. “Simple fix. I said there needs to be one more gem. People love six but they hate five. I learned that from M&Ms. How many M&M colors are there? You guessed it, not five. But six. So they added a sixth gem stone. I told them, someone has to describe this stone using the words alternate universe, alien DNA, infinity drive and negative tachyon, because those things will put the audience in a hypnotic state where they will believe that comic book movies actually matter.”

Pseudoscience, or pure genius? You decide.

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