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Why Prometheus failed to ask the big questions it pretended to ask...

I suppose it's rather late to be commenting on a film from 2012, but I just recently came up with a reason why I didn't like the film Prometheus. Or at least one reason...

When Prometheus came out, all the critics and many fans on the internet praised how the film asked big questions. I never got that. To me Prometheus didn't ask big questions, it only pretended to do so.

For instance, it is made pretty blatant in the film that characters in Prometheus are asking about where we come from. Were we created by a superior alien race?

The answer is given to us right at the beginning of the film. So, yes. According to the opening sequence, the 'engineers' seeded the building blocks of life on primordial planets, presumably including Earth. We're given an answer even before anyone on screen asks the big question.

Surely, this pretty much negates the whole purpose of having a big question in the film...

Also, films that really do address big questions, don't necess…

Why did Jurassic World hire a former Navy Seal to train their raptors?

The title says it all...

But to reiterate:

Why did Jurassic World, supposedly the world's biggest theme park, hire a former Navy Seal to train their velociraptors?

Could they not attract the top expertise in animal training? Or any of the surviving Jurassic Park veterans?

Or was Owen Grady THE top raptor trainer in the world?

I am confused.

I liked Owen Grady as a character; he was funny and charismatic. And I enjoyed Chris Pratt's portrayal of Grady. But suspension of disbelief went flying out the window as soon as he was revealed to be a former Navy Seal and not Steve Irwin...

Phylogenetic and non-phylogenetic comparative analyses

Despite phylogenetic comparative methods being around for a few decades now (see Harvey and Pagel, 1991 for a good introduction), there is still a very strong tendency in comparative studies to report both the phylogenetic and non-phylogenetic comparative analyses.

My take on this phenomenon is that researchers are interpreting these two statistical procedures as equally valid alternative approaches, similar to a case where you don't know if one phylogeny is correct over another so you report both sets of results.

However, these two examples are not directly comparable, and reporting results from non-phylogenetic comparative analyses alongside results from phylogenetic comparative analyses is wrong.

This is simply because non-phylogenetic analyses violate statistical non-independence when data show strong phylogenetic non-independence, while phylogenetic comparative analyses account for this non-independence.

It's exactly the same issue with analysing temporally correlated tim…

Jurassic World

I finally saw Jurassic World.

It was pure entertainment.

An action flick or a monster movie. Lots and lots of carnage.

...but not really in league with the original Jurassic Park. There is no sense of awe, like the first time I saw the Brachiosaurus rear up.

Definitely not sci-fi.

There is a ton of articles written by prominent palaeontologists on the internet already about the scientific inaccuracies of JW, so I'll keep that brief, and maybe touch a bit more on the sci-fi and plot aspects that JW missed. Obviously, SPOILERS!

But first, the obligatory palaeo-sins (like cinema sins):
The dinosaurs all look rubbery and early 20th century like. Never mind the featherless-ness, these dinos looked worse than how they looked in the original 1993 JP. You can really see what I mean in the skin texture of the herbivores like Triceratops or any of the sauropods, especially in the scenes with the gyrosphere. The JP Triceratops and Brachiosaurus didn't look like that, so why do this? If t…