OBJECTIVE: Watch Avatar once per every week of 2014.

WHEN: June 21, 2014, 10:45 am. (Week 25, June 15-21.)

WHERE: In my apartment in Portland, ME.

FORMAT: DVD on a 19” AOC LED computer monitor; digital download on an iPhone 3.


PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Feeling quite pleasant.

Alright, so I decided to repeat last week’s experiment testing how a viewing of Avatar affects my reading speed. Partly because repeating the test will produce more reliable results, and also because I just don’t feel like thinking very hard about Avatar today.

Like last week, I read from Dickens’s Bleak House for one hour directly before my viewing, and again directly afterward. I even read in the same location in my house both weeks, because even Fake Movie Scientists should try their best not to skew their results by changing the conditions of the experiment.

Before my viewing, I was able to read 28 pages per hour. Immediately afterward, I was able to read only 25 per hour. That’s roughly an 11 % drop in reading speed. Very comparable to last week’s 10% drop. So does that make this a dramatic discovery worthy of the news?



While testing this twice is better than just doing it once, it’s still ridiculously far from meaning anything at all. In order for this to be in any way noteworthy, it would have to be tried on a wide field of test subjects, under scrupulously similar conditions. You’d probably also want to test the reading speed of subjects after watching other films of similar length, because maybe any film would have this effect. My point being, what I’ve just done is Fake Movie Science, not real science.

While I have 27 more viewings to go, I think I’ve reached the end of my reading experiments. For one thing, it’s unlikely another time or two would greatly expand our knowledge of Avatar‘s effect on reading speed. For another, I’m running out of Bleak House to read, and there is no way I’m starting in on Little Dorrit.

I’ve reached that point in the year where Avatar ceases to exist for me as I watch it. I may stare at the screen, but nothing gets into my brain. My mind simply refuses to register it as new information. And the year isn’t even halfway over yet. FUN.