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Clever Girl: The Devastating Hubris in Jurassic Park

Show Notes for Episode 2.4

Quick Links from the Episode

Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton 1993
  • Folio Facts: You may have heard of the Library of Alexandria, tragically lost in a fire. But have you heard of the sacking of the Library of Baghdad? Called Bayt al-Hikma, or the House of Wisdom, this enormous repository was the hub of caliph-sponsored scholarship in the Abbasid caliphate. Unfortunately this treasure was lost when the Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258.
  • Dragon Teeth is the posthumous Michael Crichton book about fossil hunters and rival paleontologists Jennifer was referring to in the episode.
  • BBE Bookstore: This episode, Paige rants and raves over Tamsyn Muir’s hit debut novel, Gideon the Ninth and its sequel, Harrow the Ninth. Paige devoured these in a few short days, so you could say that she recommends them. Beware, strong language and bone necromancy lie ahead.
    • *links are affiliate links, we receive a small percentage of the sale*
  • Jennifer can confirm that Dr. Sattler stopped to help Harding treat a sick stegosaurus in the book, rather than the triceratops we see in the film.
  • Jennifer mentioned horseshoe crab blood but couldn’t remember why it is important to medical research. Hint: it is very important. The Atlantic has a great article on its historic use and attempts to transition towards synthetic versions, and horseshoe crab blood has become especially relevant in the current coronavirus pandemic. If and when a vaccine is developed, we will likely have these ancient creatures to thank for it.
  • Creatives’ Corner: This episode, Jennifer presents Samosas & Sirens, an awesome bookish Instagram account that has convinced Jennifer to read many of the non-podcast related reads she has completed this year. S & S was one of the first accounts we followed and they continue to create amazing content.

Dinosaur eats man…Woman inherits the Earth.

Ellie Sattler, Jurassic Park

Main Points from the Episode

  • According to Ian Malcolm, discovery is the rape of the natural world. Do you agree? Discussion was a mixed bag. Paige and Jennifer agree that many forms of scientific discovery have unintended and disastrous consequences on the natural world. We also agree that often scientific research can be competitive and motivated by greed, or a desire for fame, rather than purely altruistic desires. However, the statement Malcolm makes in the book is extremely black and white and we can’t quite get behind it.
  • Have we learned the lessons from Jurassic Park? Namely that humankind does not exercise enough caution in scientific discovery? First, it was impossible to not talk about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in this question, where examples of careless research abound. While scientific progress is important, Paige and Jennifer agreed that humans tend to underestimate the possible consequences of scientific research. One big example from our past would be atomic power, which was immediately used to create weapons. But on the other hand you have particle accelerators. People argued CERN shouldn’t be built because it might create a black hole, but would we rather have not built the CERN accelerator due to that astronomically small chance?
  • Aaaaand even though this isn’t a bonus Movie Magic episode…let’s talk about the movie! Basically we fangirl over Ellie Sattler, complain about how annoying Lex’s character is, and talk about great quotes from the movie. We also chat about the evolution of the relationship between Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler from book to early production to final cut. Some of the scenes we discuss are below!
The iconic scene where the characters (and the audience) get the first look at some dinosaurs!
This T-Rex scene still does not fail to terrify us, 20 years later.
Ellie Sattler, even more of a badass in the book than in the movie!

Coming up next time, Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. If you are enjoying the podcast, please consider leaving us a review or following us on social media. If you’d like to support the podcast, you can buy any of the books mentioned in this episode from our Bookshop store, or head on over to our Patreon for bonus content. Until next time, cheers!

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