Do your research!

schizoHave you watched the program Perception?  It’s about a schizophrenic who teaches in college and solves crimes on the side.  I really like it.  The actors are good and the production very well done.   However, a few weeks ago, the hero–Dr. Daniel Pierce played by Eric McCormack–decided to go undercover in a mental hospital to solve a murder.   Here’s the problem:  I worked in a state hospital and the errors  made me nuts.     Pierce pretended to be going through an episode, was picked up by cops who took him to a mental hospital.  Shortly after he entered, he was given his meds.     Mental hospitals are the same as medical hospitals:  no one gets treated before a doctor sees the patient and prescribes medications and care.   Then, he’s placed in group therapy with patients who are  catatonic and others who are violent.  Again, no orders for this from a doctor and someone as high function as Pierce would never be in a mixed group and how in the world would a catatonic patient be helped in group therapy? 

med doctor babyWhen I was a child, Friday night was family movie  night.   My brother Mike and I had to be careful about what movie we allowed our father to see.  Dad was a medical doctor.  We learned young not to allow him near a movie about a doctor or a hospital because he would–loudly–point out every error made on the screen.   However, some movies sneak medical stuff in unexpectedly.  In many Westerns, a woman goes into labor.  As soon as that happens, one of the actors shouts, “Boil some water.”  My father would break out into laughter and shout, “What are they going to do?  Boil the baby?”

Mortifying in so many ways.  As a writer, I’m embarrassed because the person who wrote the screen play didn’t do basic research who after  watching many Westerns, believed that boiling water when a woman went into labor was a scientific fact.

As a teacher, I hated it when the teacher heroine would slip out to met her fiance for an hour-long lunch or when class size was seven students or that they work only four hours a day.

What bugs you when a writer makers a mistake?  I once threw a book at the wall because the story couldn’t overcome the errors for me.  Have you ever done that?


7 thoughts on “Do your research!

  1. For suspension of reality, try fantasy sci-fi….although most great sci-fi writers do impeccible scientific research, but let their imaginations go wild on settings and alien characters. I love the adventure and spy stories because the action goes so fast I don’t see the errors, unless it is that idiot Tom Cruise and simply casting him is an error.

    1. You’re never going to forgive Tom Cruise for casting himself as Reacher, are you!? I have no problem suspending disbelief. It’s true errors that bug me.

  2. My father used to do that and so do I. I ripped apart the mockumentary on Animal planet, about mermaids, before I went on line to discover it was faked. I drove my friend nuts that evening.

  3. Yes, I DO throw books against the wall, and there’s a strong likelihood I won’t read the author again. The worst error I ever saw was “the hills around Galveston, Texas”. Really? Where? Was the author even aware that Galveston is an ISLAND? Don’t get me started.

    1. I agree–if the author writes really unresearched stuff, I have no desire to read that writer again either. The hills around Galveston–is that like the Garth Brooks song, The Beaches of Cheyenne?

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