Posted by: ritagone | February 19, 2020

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

If you’ve been reading

my blog for even a short amount of time, you probably know that I like a certain kind of tv show, particularly well done crime dramas.  I’ve fallen into watching a British series called “Silent Witness” that recently finished its 23rd season; it is the precursor to the American series “Bones,” which is about forensic (relating to or denoting the application of scientific methods and techniques to the investigation of crime – because I kept hearing the word but never really knew what it meant!)  pathology after a murder.  The series started way back in 1996, and because I accidentally watched the 23rd season first, I didn’t want to go way back to the beginning, so instead I’ve been watching it backwards, starting with season 23 and then going to 22, 21, and so forth.  Each season is 10 episodes, each story is two episodes, so they do five stories a season.  I’m in season 16 now.  It’s a very weird way to watch a tv show, I give you that; nevertheless, it is a very well-done show.  The “science” of it seems to be accurate, the pathologists seem very believable, the forensic guy, while a hunk, is also quite good at what he does forensically (whatever that means!), and all in all, I feel that by now if I were needed by, say, the LAPD to help solve a murder, I’ve got enough information and data to be of solid assistance to them.

Which leads me to my story for today: there’s another rather new show on American tv called “Lincoln Rhyme: the Hunt for the Bone Collector,” about a “brilliant” (they’re always brilliant, aren’t they?) policeman or detective whose focus in life was catching a criminal they called the Bone Collector for reasons I won’t go into.  During his pursuit of the Bone Collector, he fell and was rendered paralyzed, meaning that he could no longer physically pursue the criminal.  Instead, he functions out of his apartment in New York with a nurse watching over him constantly and a team of forensic people and a NYPD detective and officer at his command.  (Would this really happen in real life? Is there a budget for this sort of thing?)  The latest technology is available to him in his office/lab. Of course. And so from his office/lab, he directs everyone like an orchestra conductor, with a tv monitor one would kill for in one’s own living room, obviously unlimited funding, and knowledge that would put him way past anyone who has ever competed on “Jeopardy.”

My point?

I compare “Lincoln Rhyme,” the American tv show, to “Silent Witness,” the British forensic show, and find the former vaguely amusing and so off in its accuracy, so inane in the way its crimes are solved in 60 minutes (minus the commercials), that sometimes I can hardly stand to watch.

And then I’m struck with a profound realization:

What do I really know about any of this?

Am I truly comparing one fake tv show against another and claiming that one show’s forensics are better?  That I could learn more about pathology watching “Silent Witness” than I could sticking with the American Lincoln Rhyme?  What?  That’s like saying I should watch more of one medical doctor on tv than another to be a better real-life physician.  Sometimes I actually amaze myself with the stupidity of my reasoning.

G.K. Chesterton said: “Thinking in isolation and with pride ends in being an idiot.”  More than everything else, this all points to a truth that bears repeating over and over again: we don’t know what we don’t know.

So enjoy whatever shows you watch, British or American, take them at face value, and stop thinking you’re going to be eligible to be a professional in whatever field they represent.  (I’m talking to myself here.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m starting Season 14 of “Silent Witness.” I might be able to finish the series back to Season 1 by the time I’m 80.


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