Which TV Show Best Demonstrates the Scientific Method?

By Michael Edmonds 25/04/2013

A number of TV shows incorporate aspects of science into their story lines, some more successfully than others. I’m interested in reader’s opinions of which show(s) best demonstrate the scientific method?

CSI, Sherlock, Elementary, NCIS, Big Bang Theory or something else….. What’s your pick for the best (and perhaps the worst) demonstration of the scientific method?



0 Responses to “Which TV Show Best Demonstrates the Scientific Method?”

  • You could add Bones to your list. At least sometimes they do experiments of sorts — mostly the kind where things go bang or splatter. (Ha.)

    We need Anna, our forensic scientist on to this 🙂

  • “You could add Bones to your list”

    I stopped watching bones after the number of references to pseudo-science as valid things to consider in their investigations tripped my bullshit-o-meter. :/ Was looking promising, but couldn’t take it seriously.

    I suspect they had someone sympathetic to the alt-med position on the writing team for that show.

  • @Gold,

    Has some good episodes but the bad ones have been increasing in number lately. Incl. one where Bones is shot and starts having NDE type experiences in which she meets her dead mother. The episode ends implying it was all real (information she was given being of the “no one could have known that” variety)

    But I would venture to say none of them do it very well – were I to choose one it might be a “best of a bad lot” sort of choice. Though I do like Elementary for the characters.

  • It’s not fiction, and no longer being produced, but I think that for demonstration of the scientific method it would be difficult to go past Mick Aston on Time Team.

  • Gold – “I stopped watching bones after the number of references to pseudo-science”

    Much the same here. A real pity as the show could have taken a look at Big Bang Theory (say) and have been much better for it. My impression is that the writing team have changed over the different series.

    The current scripts are so bad in places, I actually got to thinking I wish someone would write a [spoof?] plot where the Smithsonian team targets their script writer and gets away with the perfect murder 🙂 Hmm… Could make a fun blog post!

    Darcy – “I would venture to say none of them do it very well”

    I was thinking to say the same, but didn’t want to be a spoiler! 🙂 More seriously though, I wondered if any of the more ‘traditional’ British shows do any better – ? (I can’t think of examples of science in them off the top of my head.)

    “Though I do like Elementary for the characters.”

    Sherlock, yes; Elementary, no. (Sorry!)

  • Tim Minchin identifies Scooby Doo as a good example of scientific thinking in his beat poem “Storm”.
    While I like Sherlock as a drama, and think Elementary is ok, the way the characters find ONE interpretation of observations seems very unscientific and unrealistic to me. Though I very much enjoyed the scene where Sherlock gets the gender of John Watson’s sibling wrong.
    House could be considered an example of the scientific method in action, though I don’t think it would want to be a patient!
    Bones, like many programmes had potential – why oh why do they have to introduce pseudoscience into such programmes – it is like they feel the need to “balance” rational thinking with irrational thinking!

  • I’m with you, Grant – can’t stand “Elementary”! The lead characters drive me nuts. Now, “Sherlock”, on the other hand…

    Gold – surely there was a recent (aka ‘new’) series of “Time Team” on TV last year? I will be very sad if they’re not making it any more 🙁

  • Does it have to be a current show? Some of the old X-files episodes drew heavily on recent scientific discoveries of the era and wove them into the show..

    Bones signalled was heading off on the wrong direction the moment Kathy Reich’s bailed at being associated with the program. I gave up on it pretty soon after.

    Did like some of the early CSI seasons also- any program that had an entomologist as the lead character was ok with me. I was prepared to overlook many of its weaknesses for that reason.

    House was also a good example of the scientific method. YOU have alternate hypothesis, experimentation, and corroboration.

  • Cumberbund? Zounds! Have at you, sir 🙂

    I do agree with others that House was a good example of scientific method. But after a while I got really tired of the format 🙁

  • Are we concluding that Bones has the worst demonstration of the scientific method? 🙂

  • From what I can tell, House seems to be the preferred “best” example of scientific method, and the latter series (?) of Bones are “worst” though historically I would consider nothing worse then the X-files.