Saturday, March 23, 2013

Reason In, Garbage Out

Dale DeBakcsy:

On February 11, 2011, children the world over gathered about their television sets to watch a new episode of the smash hit cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. On this particular program, one of the ponies manifests the ability to predict the future and Twilight Sparkle, the show's resident rational positivist, sets out to debunk the phenomenon. What follows is that she is physically and intellectually humiliated at every possible turn of the process, resulting in a climatic breakdown in which she finally rejects her own role as a rational observer and declares that, "I now realize there are wonderful things in this world you just can't explain, but that doesn't necessarily make them any less true. It just means you have to choose to believe in them."

DeBakcsy is concerned about what he sees as a recurring theme in cartoons. You know me; I'm too sanguine to worry about the political ramifications of wrongthink in popcorn entertainment. Reason and the scientific method are made of sterner stuff than that, and overly literal-minded propagandists often fail to reckon with the creative detours their supposedly-unambiguous message can take in the minds of the audience.