Steve Miller In “The Day After Tomorrow”, the latest disaster blockbuster from Hollywood, the world is plunged into a deep freeze as everything that could go wrong with our climate due to global warming, does go wrong. In “Hear the Silence”, Channel Five used the considerable acting talents of Juliet Stevenson to promote the views of Dr. Andrew Wakefield that autism and bowel disease is caused by the triple MMR vaccine. Neither drama production is scientifically accurate to the extent that it would get past the peer review system on Science and Nature. But is the inaccuracy of “The Day After Tomorrow” condonable, because the film generally supports the scientific consensus that global warming is happening and that it is – potentially – devastating, while the inaccuracy of “Hear the Silence” is unacceptable, because – at considerable risk to the health of Britain’s children – it flies in the face of the medical consensus? Well, the audience at the BA’s x-change in May thought so. And I have to admit that my gut reaction was to go with them. But my logic said otherwise. So why? Firstly, scientific accuracy always matters. If a play or film presents science inaccurately, it can never be wrong to point this out, especially if that drama purports – implicitly or explicitly – to be portraying scientific truth. The shortcomings of both pieces can be exposed and discussed, for it can never hurt to clarify ideas that are circulating within society. Secondly, however, no dramatist or film-maker has a duty to present “scientific truth” as agreed by the majority/consensus of the scientific community. Drama is not scientifically peer reviewed; it goes through a much tougher mill, subject to the often cyanide-laden pen of the film or theatre critic. Drama stands or falls – primarily - as a piece of artistic work. That artists (of all sorts) are more ready to challenge science and scientists than was previously the case is part of a society in which two-way communication, dialogue and debate are supposed to be the norm, not the exception. A final thought: would a piece that propounded the opposite points of view from “The Day After Tomorrow” or “Hear the Silence” make it to the screen, large or small? Okay, I doubt that a film in which climate change does not occur, or if it does, just makes holidays on the Isle of Wight even jollier than they already are, would grip the imagination as much as the Statue of Liberty collapsing under a weight of ice. But I can definitely imagine a plot in which – in a dystopic future in which Britain is run by a combination of UKIP, the BNP and the “Daily Mail” – vaccination levels are so low that a plague of measles breaks out. As a child who spent several weeks in a darkened room because the doctor was afraid that I would lose my sight to measles, I can envisage the scene in which a crocodile of blinded children snakes through the streets of London on its way to Moorfields Eye Hospital to the strains of Barber’s Adagio, like World War I soldiers after a gas attack. If I had an ounce of artistic talent, I might even write the script myself. Steve Miller is Head of Science and Technology Studies, University College London. He was a guest speaker at the x-change on 26 May at the Dana Centre.