Monday Tropes: Fear of Scientists

It just so happens that there’s something super special about your character, and they know that if scientists got a hold of them, they’d be turned into an experimental meat puppet and probably live a very miserable existence. This is very rarely questioned, and if the character ever does come across some scientists, it’s pretty much guaranteed they’re going to be sharpening their scalpels to get at the character.

Why this is bad: To some degree, this is legitimate. Obviously, there are scientists and doctors who would love to get their hands on a character with a superpower or of some mythical race so that they could do experiments. However, this trope can sometimes get pushed to the point of ridiculousness. There are real world laws surrounding experimentation, so if your evil scientists ever hope to publish their work, they’re pretty much guaranteed to have their licenses revoked and mud smeared on their names – not to mention jail time. If they plan on doing it secretly for the good of x company or government, though, they might get some more leeway. Also, some writers forget that these scientists are, well, people. They (probably) have some humanity in them and will probably have doubts. There’s a recurring problem in fiction where the scientists care nothing about whomever they’re experimenting on and are completely cold-hearted. While this might be true for a small amount of people, it’s harder to make the claim that there’s a team of 100 or even 20 scientists who all feel this way and have no qualms about cutting up someone more or less human.

How you can fix it: Put some humanity in your scientists. While it’s true that humans have done some very horrible, terrible things in the past, that’s more the exception than the rule. Humans are sympathetic, so if your character might very well be able to reason their way out of trouble. Also, keep in mind the logistics when you’re designing an evil research company or something, because there has to be something more than “they’re all heartless” to keep them doing these experiments.

Bottom Line: Scientists are humans and there are real-world consequences for breaking laws around medical experimentation. Keep this in mind.

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