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The Battle for Science

October 18, 2014

I’m currently taking a screenwriting class at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. Every week, we have to write a scene. The assignment was to write dialogue that was 5 words or less per line.

INT. CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY.

DANA, a Republican staffer for the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, is accustomed to being underestimated. LAUREL, her Democrat counterpart, is trying to keep her frustration under control. Both are in a National Science Foundation (NSF) conference room reviewing materials about studies that have received funding.

DANA

Please hand me the folder.

LAUREL

How about a trade?

DANA

Are you serious?

LAUREL

Yes, I want an answer.

DANA

Fine. Ask.

LAUREL

Why this study?

DANA

Not this again.

LAUREL

Do you understand peer review?

DANA

Do you understand debt?

LAUREL

Science is fundamental to innovation.

DANA

Not this science.

LAUREL

What’s that supposed to mean?

Dana picks up a folder off the table at random.

DANA

Oppression in Nepal?

LAUREL

You mean, understanding depression?

Dana picks up another folder.

DANA

Bringing dioramas to life?

LAUREL

Raising awareness about environmental issues.

DANA

None of this seems wasteful?

LAUREL

This seems wasteful.

Laurel looks in dismay at the stacks of folders covering the table.

DANA

Let’s agree to disagree.

LAUREL

No.

DANA

Excuse me?

LAUREL

I can’t agree to disagree.

DANA

Do you need a break?

LAUREL

I need to understand why.

DANA

Congress has oversight of NSF.

LAUREL

But we’re not scientists.

DANA

So we can’t have opinions?

LAUREL

Scientists should judge scientific merit.

DANA

This is common sense.

LAUREL

So scientists are biased?

DANA

Obviously.

LAUREL

And you’re not?

DANA

I’m not funded by NSF.

LAUREL

You’re funded by religious zealots.

DANA

That is completely unprofessional.

LAUREL

I apologize. That was insensitive.

DANA

I’ve seen enough for today.

LAUREL

You’re done?

DANA

I’ll be back here tomorrow.

LAUREL

So we’re not done.

DANA

Not even close.

LAUREL

You realize you can’t win.

DANA

Oh, there will be reform.

LAUREL

You may control the agenda –

Dana interrupts.

DANA

We won’t baby scientists anymore.

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