Movies & Science: Benefit of the doubt

Movies & Science is a collaboration between Studium Generale and Utrecht Young Academy. The first series took place in the Utrecht movie theatre ’t Hoogt, were three UYA-members introduced a film in the light of different topics. After the first series of Movies and Science were completed, the Utrecht Young Academy and the Studium Generale decided to make a tradition of the event and enrich the collaboration.

The first series

In the autumn of 2017, Studium Generale and the Utrecht Young Academy together organised a series of Movies & Science on the meaning of doubt: ‘Benefit of the doubt’. We like to think that we value truth in science, in court and in other parts of life. Yet what looks authentic, could be false. What happens when reality conflicts with your dearest beliefs and values? Three movies about the struggle for truth and the comfort of being fooled were shown. A blog has been written on every movie and discussion.

Movie: Kumaré

In Kumaré, American film maker Vikram Gandhi pretends to be an Indian guru. Looking for spiritual guidance, his followers learn their main lesson when Gandhi reveals his true identity. How can you fool a believer?

Science: Psychologist Dr Madelijn Strick talked about the comfort of being fooled.

Blog: How to fool a believer?


Movie: 12 Angry Men

In the movie '12 angry men', a jury tries to determine whether an 18 year old boy is guilty of murder. A heroic anti-conformist jury member challenges an 11-1 vote for conviction in order to reach a unanimous and correct verdict. To what extent are we able to set aside personal beliefs and let the facts speak for themselves? Why is it so hard to reach a unanimous decision?

Science: Law scholar Prof Elaine Mak talked about prejudice and evidence in court.

Blog: How to find truth in a murder trial?

Movie: Merchants of Doubt

Merchants of Doubt shows how con men obscure the truth on issues of health and climate change. Around 2001 the US Republican party was 100% committed to stop global warming, until ‘professional deceivers’ manipulated the debate on climate change. The campaigns they run deny well-established scientific knowledge and are very effective. How can doubt thrive while scientists agree on the facts?

Science: Statistician Dr Daniel Oberski talked about how even experts can be fooled.

Blog: Why the climate debate is a street fight