Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.


Posted by Michael Dickens on May 7, 2009

I just finished watching an episode of Bones, a show about Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan, the leader of a forensics team. She is brilliant, but lacks social skills. She also seems to think that she is completely objective. This show is apparently based on someone’s real life, but it must only be loosely based since it is so wrong.

Brennan seems to think that she is objective. But if she is really as brilliant as she seems to be, she must realize that it is not humanly possible to be completely objective.

She also talks in technical terms that few understand, but then says it “normally” directly after. For example, she says, “He has cortoscopic endicular psychosis. . . a brain tumor.” She clearly understands that people do not know what she is talking about when she says the first term. But then, why bother saying the first term at all? The only possible answer is that she wants to sound smart. So she is not as socially incompetent as she would like to think, but instead has some problems with her ego. But that might not be it; she talks to a baby in baby-talk-voice, saying “you like spacial disorientation, don’t you?” while spinning the baby around herself. There is no reason to try to impress the baby. So why bother talking like that? It’s not necessarily more difficult than “normal” baby talk, but it is no more descriptive than saying “you like being dizzy” and is in fact longer and more complicated. So by Occam’s Razor, she should have said “you like being dizzy” and if she’s really as smart as she thinks she is, she would have realized that.

Brennan tends to avoid emotions, because they are illogical or something. But they’re not. Emotions are frequently very logical, just from a different perspective than what we normally think of. Emotion is an evolutionary tool used to accomplish certain goals, and it works rather well. So why deny it? Sure, emotion isn’t perfect; sometimes it gets in the way. But why deny it all the time? There is no real logical reason to avoid all emotion.

So in this episode, Brennan decides that she wants a baby. She claims that it will be “fulfilling”. How is having a baby fulfilling? A baby requires a huge amount of time and effort, not to mention personal sacrifice. That is not what I call fulfilling. No, the only sense in which a baby is fulfilling is in an emotional sense. And this is an example of a case where emotions are evolutionarily useful: by logic alone, having a child is not a rational decision from an individual standpoint. Sure, maybe Brennan understands this. But then, why try to avoid emotion in all other scenarios? Having children is not the only scenario in which emotion is more rational than individualistic logic.

In conclusion, Brennon is not only illogical and subjective but highly fallible, even with “objective” analyses. I am going to be a writer on every show like this ever written so they can get it right. You know what show gets it right? Numb3rs. They know what they’re doing.


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