I’m not talking about obscure, hard to catch ones, like if Columbus’s junior boatswain’sman was right- or left-handed, I’m talking about glaring errors immediately obvious to anyone remotely familiar with the subject, profoundly easy to research, and explainable only by the script writers just not caring.
The one that brought this to mind is an episode of Let the Right One In. A bright astronomy buff child and her father are setting up a reasonably large telescope in their back yard to look at the moon. She turns to her father and asks excitedly “Do you think we can find the Sea of Tranquility?”. This is the equivalent of a geography-loving moon critter pointing a telescope towards Earth and wondering if there is a chance of being able to locate Australia.
(I know similar threads have been done before, but my searches failed to come up with one to bump.)
Star Trek NG: A huge asteroid is hurtling towards a populated planet. To big for the tractor beams. But commander Riker felt the need to ask: “Can’t we just shoot it down”? Data then has to explain to the first officer: No that will just make it worse.
My 5th grade self could have told you that. Jeesh!
So my four year old has recently gotten into “Shimmer and Shine” a kids cartoon about a pair of genies, based on (a very Disney-fied) 1000-and-one-nights style Persian genie folklore. Its not actually the worst kids show out there (and its one of the few not based on non-western culture, and the show runner is actually of Persian descent). But I have a slight problem with them insisting on having a Christmas episode where Santa Claus visits Shimmer and Shine’s clearly Middle-eastern/Persian magical homeland.
The Sea of Tranquility covers a significant percentage of the Moon’s hemisphere that faces the Earth and is naked-eye feature that has been seen by every human who has ever lived who has seen the moon. The only thing in question is the name of the area. It would take a spectacular level of staggering incompetence to look at the moon through a telescope and not find the Sea of Tranquility. And I cannot believe that any child (this one was 12, BTW) who is interested in astronomy or the moon would not have seen a map of the moon and not been aware that the feature is the size of a continent.
Tornado Warning - 2002 made-for-TV disaster movie starring Gerald McRaney as the inventor of a tornado warning system has McRaney repeating the old saw about opening windows when there’s a tornado coming.
The bottom line is that, with the rather flexible capabilities of any given item of Treknobabble, it’s not immediately obvious whether or not it’s possible to accomplish anything useful by blowing it apart until the fact that “no, it isn’t a good idea” is established.
Do you happen to know the episode? I tried to find it cause my geeky self wanted to know how big it was. All I could find was an ep where they DID shoot an asteroid, then that stopped working and the tractor beam didnt work and so they used the deflector dish (Cause of course they did)
As for lazy mistakes. I mentioned this a long time ago but at the time couldn’t find a trope for it (maybe there is one now)
Treason (in America) is a very specific offense defined by the Constitution. It hasn’t effectively been prosecuted in forever. And yet dumbass applications of it arise all the time in shows, and IRL of course. “Treason!! He committed treason!”
The kid probably wasn’t actually asking about the Mare Tranquilitatis itself. The reason why the Sea of Tranquility is of interest to a child, and hence probably the reason for her question, is that that’s where Apollo 11 landed. So her question should be parsed as “Will we be able to find the spot where humans first landed on the Moon?”, and that’s a much more reasonable question, with a more complicated answer: If you have a map, you can probably point out the spot, but you’re not going to be able to directly see any sign of the landing itself.
This is the same show that likes to put starships in geosynchronous orbits over the planet’s north pole and has orbits decay instantly as soon as the power goes out. Accurate science isn’t exactly their forte.
People on television say and ask things that would be absolutely obvious to any professional of their stature because the audience needs to know the information. For some reason having a professional ask a question they should know the answer to is an accepted convention. Probably because the audience doesn’t know that it’s a stupid question; all they see is someone helpfully getting some technical point out so they can follow along.
Science fiction shows do this so often that I pretty much stopped watching them. There has to be a better way between stupid questions and flat-out exposition. Data was one of the worst examples of this. Sometimes he had the fastest computer brain and sometimes he didn’t know what vowels were or something equally kindergartenish.
We just have to learn to live in a world in which 12 year olds can be astronomy buffs but 99% of adults think of science as unintelligible mumbo-jumbo that only weenies should know anything about.